In Memory of Bob Stuart

I first met Bob at his wedding (to Liz, Kate’s cousin); but as is the case at most such functions, I had little chance to get to know him.  That privilege came later, as his stint at Harvard resulted in numerous opportunities for our families to mingle.  After the birth of his and Liz’s first daughter, Caroline, the kids made it even easier (or, alternately, made it harder to do anything other than hang with other parents).  Even after they (and new baby Emily) moved out to the San Diego area where Bob took a teaching position at UC San Diego, we saw them at least once a year during our annual visit to the grandparents, and sometimes more than that.  Overall it’s been around ten years of regular contact. 

So, what can I say about Bob?  At forty, he seemed more like twenty, not so much from a maturity standpoint (that was back when he was thirty), but from a energy and enthusiasm standpoint.  Bob was an amateur astronomer with a telescope too large for his house, an amateur geologist with too many specimens to count, a thrower of boomerangs, a lover of the open desert, his four wheel drive jeep and his convertible classic Mustang.  He was an amateur programmer as well to help him with gene sequencing as part of his rather esoteric studies in renal disease and other things I knew even less about.  That’s a pretty large list of hobbies for someone with a demanding career, a wife and two small children, but somehow he made room for them.

He was brilliant, but never made you feel stupid (well, at least not me).  He sometimes took delight in childish pranks, like setting up his laptop to say, “Dave, you’re a bonehead” (and videotaping it with the camcorder I forgot at his house).  (Make that “rarely made you feel stupid”). 

In many years of trading presents, I think his favorite was a Nerf Crossbow we gave him for Christmas one year.   

He loved kids before he was a father.  He always went out of his way to impress them with cool tricks, like the time he made ice-cream on the back deck with liquid nitrogen, or the time he created a monstrous waterfall of soap suds down an outside stairwell at a family reunion with dry ice and soapy water. 

When he was alone with Caroline and Emily one time in California, he drove up to LA where we were staying with Kate’s folks, crashing on the floor to spend a little more time with us, something that always made me wonder if I could find the energy to do the same thing if I was alone with Will and Brie.

He enjoyed having rather than dominating conversations, usually over a beer or a glass of wine, despite having a rather significant reserve of  stories more interesting than the ones I could come up with.  You never had the sense of politely feigned attention… he was there, and interested in what you had to say.

Albert Einstein once said “Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”  I can’t think of anyone that lived up to that credo than Bob. I miss him.                                                                             Dave


Caroline Stuart


Emily Stuart

Liz Stuart