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Robert Gelman, 1923-2017

Bob Gelman, beloved husband of Jane for 67 years, proud father of Alan, Nancy, Susan, and Andy, and adoring grandparent of Stephanie, Noah, Adam, Jamie, Ben, Zacky, Jakey, and Sophie, passed away peacefully on the morning of 27 Aug 2017 at the age of 94. A child of immigrants, Bob grew up playing stickball in the streets of Brooklyn, studied physics at City College and Columbia University, taught at Champlain College in Plattsburgh, and served his country during World War II and after, when he built machines to compute missile trajectories, and later in his work at the Environmental Protection Agency. Bob was a gentle, careful man who loved life, a fiercely liberal Democrat who delighted in puns and the English language, music, tennis, and, above all, his family.


  1. Marcus says:

    My condolences to you and your family. It sounds like he lived an amazing life.

  2. Condolences Prof. Gelman. Wow 67 years of marriage. Very sweet.

  3. Lei Sun says:

    Deepest condolences. What a life!

  4. Please accept my condolences. What a beautiful obituary.

  5. Dave says:

    Thank you for sharing the obituary. My deepest sympathies to you and your family.

  6. Nick says:

    Sincere condolences. RIP Bob.

  7. Bruno says:

    My condolences to you and your family.

  8. Helen DeWitt says:

    I’m so very sorry to hear this; he sounds like a wonderful man.

  9. Dear Andrew,

    I’m very sorry to learn of the death of your father. His life was inspirational. You will always miss him.

  10. Carol says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this, Andrew. Your father sounds like a lovely man.


  11. Miguel says:

    My deepest condolences, Professor German. It sounds like he had a full and happy life.

  12. Shecky R says:

    A good full life, a peaceful death, and the love of family… it gets no better than that!

  13. jrc says:

    Stickball. I think there are a lot of differences between the 2nd generation post-Ellis Island and the 3rd. But I think one similarity is the psychic power of stickball to frame our nostalgia. I mean yeah, my friends and I hit balls in the street with whatever stick-like object we had handy and ran back and forth. But that was more like when I went to a show at CBGB in 2005… just not the same thing. Because now you are on a Little League team with real uniforms and a nice field; and now the spot you gotta go to hear the new thing is some warehouse in downtown LA.

    But they all played stickball when it mattered. And whatever it gave them – I honestly don’t know – it mattered a lot. Enough that they bequeathed it to us – the game and the scenery if not the experience (which I expect was un-bequeathable to a world outside 1930s Brooklyn or Newark). To the extent that our lives matter, it is probably mostly about what we leave of ourselves in the people we loved and who loved us. Looks like your dad left a lot of good in the world.

    Sad to hear about your loss. Best wishes to you and yours in this sad time. At least he got stickball in his life. From what I understand, it was like the single most important development in sporting history until Sandy Koufax.

  14. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Condolences, Andrew, but his family is the blessing that keeps giving.

  15. Thanatos Savehn says:

    One exceptional life amongst an exceptional cohort (the greatest generation). My condolences.

  16. Jonathan says:

    Wow 94 is a great life. I hope he had good health and that you were able to enjoy each other. It takes a while to get over losing you dad. Enjoy the opportunity to reflect and all the emotions the memories call up.

  17. Bob says:

    My sincere condolences.

    Parents are special — my father was a gentle man who flew as a navigator in the WWII Pacific, was part of the occupying forces in Japan, saw the aftermath of Hiroshima, volunteered in a Japanese kindergarten-equivalent for the duration of his tour, returned to the U.S. Odd jobs for a bit, then married my mother in 1949. (I was born in 1950.) Air Force Reserves for years — retired as Lt. Colonel. My parents were married until his death in 2000, after her paralyzing stroke the previous Spring. Once he realized she would never be able to come home, he gave up.

    He taught me the names of the stars from his navigation charts, square roots by hand around our kitchen/homework table, to read as a passion-not a chore, to be forthright and stand against both overt evil and decaying-into-evil, to look for the truth relentlessly, but with respect for others.

    He welcomed my Indian wife and my adopted Korean daughter with open arms in the midst of white-bread America. He cherished my younger sisters.

    We are both blessed to have had such men as our fathers.

  18. My sincere condolences. Thank you for sharing this.

  19. Peter says:

    Deepest condolences

  20. Aaron Pallas says:

    May his memory be a blessing.

  21. Marc Schwartz says:


    My sincere condolences to you and your family on the loss of your father.

  22. Bill Raynor says:

    My Condolences

  23. Corey says:

    My heartfelt condolences on your loss, Prof. Gelman.

  24. digithead says:

    My sincere condolences.

  25. Dharma says:

    My deepest condolences from Singapore.

  26. Martha (Smith) says:

    He was born the same year as my oldest fist cousin, who also served his country during World War II — as a fighter pilot for the U.S. Air Force, and was killed in action when he was shot down during a mission over Germany in 1944.

  27. ojm says:

    My condolences to you and your family. Sounds like a wonderful person and a wonderful life.

  28. Carlos Ungil says:

    It is a sad reason for inserting a blog post into the scheduled stream, but it was a beautiful obituary. My condolences.

  29. My deepest condolences to you and your family. May he rest in peace.

  30. Through this blog we all connect to each other through years of conversation, and so your families loss becomes something that affects all of us. Be well and take care.

  31. Leonardo Egidi says:

    My sincere condolences to you and your family, Andrew.

  32. Anatoly Vorobey says:

    My deepest condolences.

  33. Keith O’Rourke says:

    My condolences to you and your family.

  34. Kyle MacDonald says:

    My condolences. A full life and an admirable one.

  35. msuzen says:

    Prof. Gelman, My condolences to you and your family.

  36. EpiPete says:

    May his memory be a blessing.

  37. Vishv Jeet says:

    I am sorry hear about your loss. Losing father is one of the biggest event in one’s life. I am glad he lived a good life and left great legacy. May he rest in peace.

  38. Christian Hennig says:

    I’m sad about your loss. Please accept my condolences. Many good and true things have been written by others here.

  39. Ben Prytherch says:

    My condolences to you and your family. It sounds like he lived a wonderful life.

  40. Strangetruther says:

    I’m pleased that you’ve both been so successful in general.

  41. Ethan Bolker says:

    My condolences. Missiles to the EPA is a good trajectory to remember him by – along with love of family, of course.

  42. A. Nonymous says:

    Andrew, please accept my condolences.

  43. Sean McWilliams says:

    My deepest condolences to you and your family.

  44. Adam Schwartz says:

    Andrew, very sorry for your loss. From what I can gather, he’s left behind a wonderful legacy.

  45. Mike Messner says:

    I recall Barry Nussbaum telling of the times your father would bring you along to his office at EPA. Please accept my condolences.

  46. Hiroaki Minato says:

    Dear Andrew,

    My deepest sympathy to you and all the family members whom your father had influenced and impressed so wonderfully for many years in many places.


  47. zbicyclist says:

    Condolences to all of you.

  48. המקום ינחם אתכם בתוך שאר אבילי ציון וירושלים

  49. Phyllis Gorfain says:

    Condolences, dearest Susan. Your father sounds like remarkable man, and I hope you find comfort me in wonderful memories shared with family.

  50. Erin Jonaitis says:

    I’m so sorry, Andrew.

  51. Louis says:

    Condolences to you and your loved ones.

  52. Myrna Gilman says:

    Thank you, Andy, for posting this. There were some facts in here that I did not know. My condolences to all of us.

  53. My condolences. He sounds like a wonderful man.

  54. Jouni Kerman says:

    Our condolences. A life worth celebrating!

  55. Elin says:

    Condolences to you and your family. It sounds like he had a wonderful life.

  56. Asim Ansari says:

    I am very sorry to hear about your loss.

  57. Justin Smith says:

    So sorry to hear of this. All the best moving forward,


  58. Jason Yamada-Hanff says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m sorry to hear this, and wish the best to you and your family.

  59. Manoel Galdino says:

    My condolences. Wish the best to you and your family.

  60. Tova Perlmutter says:

    Very sorry for your loss. May his memory be for a blessing.

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