Passing: Robert Gilmore
Robert C. Gilmore, UNH Professor of History Emeritus (1922-2017)
by Douglas Wheeler, Professor Emeritus of History
Robert Creighton Gilmore, who taught history at UNH for more than 30 years (1952-1988), died in Exeter Hospital, August 13, following a long residence in the Rockingham County rest home in Brentwood, New Hampshire.
He was born in Proctor, Vermont on December 10, 1922. His father was employed by the Vermont Marble Company. Years later one of Bob's research topics was the Vermont marble industry. Graduating from Proctor High School in 1940, he received his bachelor's degree from the University of Vermont in 1944. Gilmore obtained master's degrees in history at McGill (1947) and Yale University (1949) and received his Ph.D. in history at Yale University (1954). Before he was hired by UNH, Durham in 1952, he taught social studies at Hartford (Vermont) High School, and at McGill University and University of New Brunswick he taught History. At UNH he was instructor and when in 1954 he received his doctorate, he was promoted to assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1961 and, in 1981, promoted to full professor of history.
Bob's chosen research field, Colonial American history, was a principal interest and specialty, but his historical knowledge and competence for teaching related classes went well beyond that field to include European and American history, Canadian history, as well as Renaissance-Reformation. He published articles on Colonial American history and studies of local history, including contributions to the biography of an important personality in 19th century Durham history, Hamilton Smith.
Among the courses he taught were Explorations in History, Introduction to Historical Perspectives, Eighteenth Century America and the Revolution, The Small Town in American History, and World History.
Emerging from his studies of Colonial America and the history of small towns in America was an enduring work of reference, a book, "New Hampshire Literature: A Sampler," edited by Robert C. Gilmore, published in 1981, University Press of New England, Hanover and London. This work was listed as a "University of New Hampshire book" and included a detailed introductory chapter, brief introductions to each section and biographical sketches of the authors, accompanied by an appendix that listed early New Hampshire presses, vacationers ("the summer people"), natives, students, scholars and "New England buffs." Among the notable authors in this collection are Donald Hall, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, William Dean Howells, Grace Metalious, May Sarton and Jeremy Belknap.
As suggested in the records of Bob's role as a colleague in the college and the Department of History, Bob was "a very versatile teacher who is at home in meeting departmental needs in many areas." His role in the department and the College of Liberal Arts was truly "above and beyond the call of duty," as he served well on a plethora of committees of all sorts and played key roles in important new initiatives. When the college received Ford Foundation grants in the early 1960s for a two-year honors program leading to masters degrees, he played a leading part, teaching sections of world history and research seminars. Later Bob had a key role in establishing the college honors program in 1984, under the auspices of the Faculty Senate.
Several times when history colleagues took sabbatical leaves somewhat unexpectedly, Bob duly volunteered to take colleagues' places beginning in 1972-73 and on at least one other occasion.
Upon his retirement from UNH, he taught adult education classes at UNH, was a student advisor and volunteered at UNH's Dimond Library. Gilmore is survived by his sister Elaine (Gilmore) Purdy of Rutland, Vermont. Burial will be in Proctor, Vermont.
Remembering Professor Gilmore
by Phyllis Heilbronner, wife of the late Hans Heilbronner, Professor Emeritus of History
All who new Bob admired him for his tremendous memory and for his many loyal friendships. He had a truly fantastic memory: he didn’t forget anything and he stayed engaged in local and national news until the very end. He always voted, even when his health might have prohibited it. It was remarkable and yet what a historian would do. Because of his lovely nature, he was just good company. He had lots of friends in the history department, across the university and in his community. Hans and I were among Bob’s first friends in the history department and we were neighbors — we lived across the street from each other on Main Street in the early years. Other close friends were Marion James of the history department, and Ellen Henrikson, a long-time and supportive friend of Bob’s. In his later years, Bob handled all the challenges of the numerous places he went to for rehabilitation with tremendous grace. It was the kind of person he was.
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