Buddhist 08

Roy Raymond Robson

June 19, 1963 ~ January 29, 2024 (age 60) 60 Years Old

Roy Robson Obituary

Roy Raymond Robson, age 60, passed away on Monday, January 29, 2024 at Bryn Mawr Hospital after a long struggle with cancer. A longtime resident of Lansdowne, he will be remembered as a distinguished scholar, inspiring teacher, loyal friend, devoted family member and beloved husband. He was a gentle soul whose quick wit, big heart, insatiable curiosity and infectious sense of humor endeared him to all. 

Roy was born on June 19, 1963 in Erie, Pennsylvania, the youngest child of Joe Brooks Robson and Anita Evanoff Robson. Growing up, he played in the McDowell Marching Band and was a proud Eagle Scout. He was devoted to the Russian Orthodox Church, where he learned Slavonic and sang in the church choir, embarking on a life dedicated to faith, music and community.

As an undergraduate at Allegheny College, he met the love of his life, Kim Elizabeth Pawlak. Their marriage on July 19, 1987 secured a partnership that sustained them and nourished their complementary talents for nearly 37 years.

A scholar of Russian history and religion, Roy earned advanced degrees from the University of Pittsburgh (MA 1987), and Boston College (PhD 1992). In 1997 he joined the faculty of University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, where he taught history and humanities for eighteen years. Since 2015 he has been Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State University, The Abington College, serving as Division Head for Arts and Humanities from 2015 to 2018. Roy’s teaching inspired students to think critically about how religious faith and practice inform historical experience. His scholarship, comprising dozens of books and articles, is notable for its breadth and elegant prose. His research was supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies and other prestigious scholarly organizations. Roy was also a sought-after lecturer for National Geographic Expeditions, where he led groups along the Trans-Siberian Railroad.

Roy excelled at making Russian history accessible to wider audiences, and situating the Russian Orthodox faith within the broader fabric of global Orthodox Christianity. His 2004 book about the Solovki islands and their outsized role in Russian history was praised by The New Yorker as an “epic drama of spiritualism and savagery.” In his textbook, Think: World Religions, Roy won over countless classrooms with his opening chapter asking whether the Steelers Nation football team could be considered a religion. Most influentially, he has served as the series editor for Orthodox Christian Studies at Northern Illinois University Press since 2008, commissioning books offering a global view of Orthodox Christianity, from East-West relations to studies of the faith in Orthodox Churches around the world.

Roy was a longstanding member of the Fairmount Rowing Association in Philadelphia, and a devoted supporter of the choirs at St. David’s Episcopal Church and Penn State Abington. He was a talented woodworker, prolific traveler and loving pet owner. He treasured time at the family lodge in Skaneateles, New York.

Roy leaves behind his wife Kim Robson and mother-in-law Victoria Pawlak; along with three siblings and their spouses: Joe Walton Robson and his wife Esther; Joy Anne Rectenwald and her husband Ross; and Laura Marie Carniewski. He was a cherished uncle and great-uncle to numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his mother and father, Anita and Joe Robson; father-in-law James Pawlak; and brother-in-law, Gregory Carniewski.  

Funeral services will be held Saturday, February 17 at 11:00 AM in the Chapel at Saint David’s Church, 763 South Valley Forge Road, Wayne, PA.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Animal Friends of Lansdowne (https://animalfriendsoflansdowne.org/), the Pennsylvania SPCA (https://www.pspca.org/), or the Cancer Research Institute (https://www.cancerresearch.org/); or find some other way to embody spontaneous generosity.

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Funeral Service
February 17, 2024

11:00 AM
The Chapel (the big church) at St. David's Episcopal Church
763 South Valley Forge Rd.
Wayne, PA 19087


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