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The Chambers Report: A Death In The Beachwood Family

"Robert H. Chambers III, whose tenure as the seventh president of Western Maryland College was marked by a renovated campus, increased enrollment and expansion abroad, died Jan 15 at John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio, Calif., of complications from an intestinal ulcer. He was 75," the Baltimore Sun reports.

As the Sun notes, Bob wrote book reviews for us in his later years; he was an energetic and elegant writer whose passion for ideas and baseball made him a good fit for us.

I knew Bob had been a college president, which I found intimidating at first as an editor, but I gleaned several fascinating aspects of Bob from the Sun that I did not know - chiefly his association with Garry Trudeau.

"During his senior year at Yale, cartoonist Gary Trudeau shared a floor with Dr. Chambers in the residential college of Davenport," the Sun reports.

"This meant I saw a lot of not just my dean, but also his wife, Alice, and especially his little daughter Lisa," said Mr. Trudeau. "It was a lovely experience, like being adopted into another family, laughing and cooking, and doing laundry a few feet away."

After graduation, Mr. Trudeau and Dr. Chambers kept in touch.

"Bob accomplished a great deal during his tenure, was justly proud of it, and enlisted me to spread the word. I volunteered my characters from Doonesbury, and some very talented graphic artists took it from there, using them on envelopes and brochures sent out to prospective students for several years thereafter," said Mr. Trudeau.

"Applicant interest shot up and enrollment swelled, for which, of course, Bob gave me full credit, feeling that Mike Doonesbury made Western Maryland's marketing material stand out," he said. "The truth, of course, was that on many levels, Bob was making the college shine, the students were happy and engaged, and word was getting out."

More that I did not know:

* "Chambers was a world traveler who had visited 70 countries on six continents and the 48 contiguous states. He hiked 530 miles across northern Spain in 2000, and as a 40-year runner, had logged some 18,000 miles."

* "His personal library included 4,000 books. He also collected antique clocks, coffee mugs and Elvis Presley memorabilia."

Bob wrote for us (almost always) from Gainesville, Florida, where he lived. He was stricken while on vacation, family members told the Sun.

I wish I had gotten to know him better.

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We posted Bob's reviews under the rubric "The Chambers Report." Here's his Beachwood archive.

* The Chambers Report: Steve Jobs vs. Jack Kennedy.

* The Chambers Report: The Last Boy Of Summer.

* The Chambers Report: Melville, Elvis And Baseball.

* The Chambers Report: A Tale Of Three Cities.

* The Chambers Report: How Bush And Obama Undermined America.

* The Chambers Report: Ayes For Atheism.

* The Chambers Report: Paterno.

* The Chambers Report: Some Guys Have All The Luck.

* The Chambers Report: Tony LaRussa & The Art Of The Cliche.

* The Chambers Report: Duke Sucks.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on January 24, 2015


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