Robert J. Rockabrand Legacy Fund

In honor of Robert J. Rockabrand: to support music and the arts, Christian Science and scholarship, all of which were important to Bob.

On September 23, 2020, Robert J. Rockabrand passed away peacefully surrounded by his family. He had just celebrated his 89th birthday.

To many, Bob was a figure on the stage; singing, laughing, teaching and sharing his love of music and passion for learning. To others, he was a friend, mentor, leader and scholar. To his family, he was a beloved husband and loving father.

Bob began his collegiate education at Principia College where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. Immediately upon graduating, he was drafted into the Army where he served the country for two years before returning to academia to pursue a Bachelor and then a Master of Music degree at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. It was at Westminster that he met his lifetime sweetheart, Sara Turner. Their love developed quickly, and when Sara graduated in 1961, they were married. After teaching at Westminster for six years, Bob and his bride headed to Stanford University where he earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts. He went on to teach for five years at Ball State University in Indiana and for one year at The North Carolina School of the Arts before joining the music department at Principia College in 1975. He served the department and the college for 22 years as a Professor of music and as freshman advisor to the gentlemen of Rackham Court West until his retirement in 1997.

As a professor, he was often described as “tough, but fair”. While this tough, but fair reputation sometimes required a large number of red pens and countless late nights, it was couched in compassion and a sincere desire to see his students learn and succeed. As an advisor, “Rocky” was adored by the men of West. A Patriarch of sorts, he was the recipient of constant, playful teasing from the men of West and regularly participated in the house meetings, an activity he enjoyed even after officially retiring, at which he was often treated as “one of the guys”.

Bob was a lifelong Christian Scientist and held dear the principles in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. He was an active member of the church, soloing in various branches for over 60 years and served as first reader for three years in Elsah, Illinois. As a musician and music scholar, Bob served the church on two hymnal revision committees spanning three decades, as well as contributing to the 2008 Hymnal Supplement and then the 2017 Hymnal with his own compositions and arrangements. Until just two weeks before his passing, he and Sara were making the final revisions to a book they are writing, detailing the history of the Christian Science Hymnal and its heritage, including testimonies of healing.

Even though Bob was an adored professor and revered community member, his heart always returned to his students, many of whom looked to him as a father figure. In the decades that spanned several generations at Principia, he taught and mentored hundreds of young men and women, delighting in the relationships that were natural to his boyish, playful demeanor. He maintained consistent correspondence with many of his students, stood with some at their weddings and even officiated at others as an ordained Minister.

Sara and Bob left their Elsah home of thirty-five years after Sara’s retirement in 2010 to relocate to Goleta, California. Shortly after settling in, Bob, always happiest in the classroom and with students, introduced himself at Westmont College in Santa Barbara where he and Sara have continued to teach for almost ten years. Affectionately known there as Dr. Bob, he continued his life’s calling at Westmont, teaching voice lessons, singing with the choir and touring both domestically and internationally.

Those of you who knew Bob need no explanation of what an incredible man he was. His conviction was impenetrable and his laughter contagious. Throughout his entire life, he demonstrated an unquenchable curiosity and an unparalleled passion for life.

The family will not be holding any kind of service at this time. In lieu of flowers or cards, if you would like to express your appreciation for Bob in a tangible way, we hope that you will consider donating to this fund so that his legacy can live on through music performance, scholarship and support of the arts.51431344_1600909202287030_r.jpeg
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