Former Lees College President Robert Landolt passes away | HCTC

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Former Lees College President Robert Landolt passes away

Robert Landolt served as President of Lees in Jackson from 1949 to 1958. We are publishing his obituary, followed by comments from our history Professor Dr. Rich Holl.


A memorial service to celebrate the lift of Robert Garland “Bob” Landolt, 104, of Arlington (formerly of Somersville) will be held at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at the First Presbyterian Church Chapel, 1200 South Collins Street, Arlington, Texas 76010.

Family members, including granddaughter Laura Landolt, are expected to participate.

Mr. Landolt died on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018.

Bob was born on Oct. 28, 1913, the youngest of 13 children, to William and Lonie Massie Landolt in Somerville.

He earned his BA and MA degrees from Austin College, where he also met Mary Ella “Ellie” Campbell, who became his wife in 1938.

They had four children, Robert, John, Mary, and Bill.

During WWII, Bob worked for the Todd Shipyard Corporation, both in Houston and Galveston.

In 1948 he became the business manager for Fort Worth’s Frist Presbyterian Church.

He served as President of Lees Junior College in Jackson, Ky., from 1949 to 1958, as it was then affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, US.

He earned his Ph.D. in Economics from University of Texas at Austin in 1965, and was a Professor of Economics and Business Management at West Virginia’s Morris Harvey College, now the University of Charleston, from 1962 to 1979.

He served as Ruling Elder for numerous Presbyterian congregations, and he remained an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Arlington.

Bob enjoyed traveling the world, visiting all of the continents with probably exception of S. America and Antarctica.

From 1980 to 1985, he taught college level economics and business courses to crew members on five U.S. Navy ships with the Navy’s Program for Afloat College Education (PACE).

He enhanced his own cultural education on tours while in ports in Japan, the Philippines, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Italy, France, and Spain.

His additional adventures included tours of China, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Switzerland, Russia, central Europe, Great Britain, and the Scandinavian countries.

Blessed with excellent health, except for some painless neuropathy in his legs in the last few years, Bob attributed his longevity to daily riding his stationary bike over 60,000 miles since 1989 and enjoying a glass of red wine before supper.

Every morning he would wake up and give thanks to God for another day and sing, “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning.”

He loved spending time with and hearing from family and friends, was an avid bridge player, and stayed up on the news and world events with his three TV’s—where he also watched football, tennis, and never missed a Texas Rangers game.

He recently enjoyed watching the Houston Astros win the World Series.

Bob committed his life to making the world a better place, reflecting the love of Jesus Christ that was seen through teachings, his writings, his genuine love and respect for all people from all backgrounds, and through is dedicated political and humanitarian efforts.

Even in his later years, Bob published articles and op-eds in support of Christian denominations resolving controversial differences and united to end political gridlocks for reversal of the disparity between the very rich and all others has resulted in increasing poverty, for legislation to utilize scientific and technical advancements to improve health, education, and climate change control, and for the development of an equitable immigration policy.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Ellie, and his daughter, Mary.

Bob will be buried with them in Charles, W. Va.

Bob is survived by his son, Bob Landolt (wife Margaret), his son, John Landolt (wife Melinda), and his son, Bill Landolt; his grandchildren, Laura, Lisa, Rob, Seth (fiancé Julie Brooks) and Lathan Landolt, Brett Wilmore (wife Peg), Ross Wilmore, and Mary Lynn Bradshaw (husband Tim), numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews, and beloved friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial gifts be made to donors’ favorite causes, such as the Landolt Scholarship Funds at the Somerville ISD or Laura’s Outreach Ministries in Ohio.

From Rich Holl – HCTC Professor of History:

On Wednesday, January 24, 2018, sad news reached me from Texas. Robert G. Landolt had passed away at the impressive age of 104.  I never met Bob in person but had spoken to him over the phone and communicated by E-mail while helping to prepare a history of Lees College some years ago.  Having served as the president of the little school from 1949 to 1958, Bob enjoyed sharing his knowledge of the institution’s past with me.  He proved to be a good source and I soon realized he was a man of rare endurance and character. 

Bob often said that God blessed him with good health and an optimistic bent. Sharp as a tack and still sprightly when I knew him at age 100, he remembered many events from his years at Lees College and primary sources such as newspapers and school documents frequently supported his reminiscences.  Under Dr. Landolt, enrollment at Lees College doubled, the endowment increased by almost 40 percent, Van Meter Gym appeared, and students were upbeat.  Landolt characterized his near decade at Lees as busy, productive, and happy.

In 1958, Lees College reached a turning point. While Bob felt that old confidences prevented him from going into detail, it seemed obvious enough that he proposed a long-term plan for Lees College that the Board of Trustees deemed too ambitious to undertake.  With Bob’s death, it is probable that the specifics of that plan will never be known.  I sensed a certain regret from Bob and the underlying conviction that Lees College missed a significant opportunity to go beyond where it had always been. 

Robert Landolt was a remarkable person who served Lees College well. No doubt, a few older people around Jackson still remember this energetic, vibrant gentleman and the efforts he expended on behalf of the College.  Faith, curiosity, and duty lit his way through a very long life and his spirit remained strong until the end.