Robert Nunn

Robert Raymond Nunn, associate professor of romance languages emeritus, died on March 16, 2017.

(The following notice was shared by President Rose on March 18, 2017)

To the Bowdoin community,

I write with the sad news that Associate Professor of Romance Languages Emeritus Robert Raymond Nunn died on March 16, 2017, in Topsham, Maine, at the age of 87. Bob taught French at the College for forty years, and he remained a valuable colleague to members of the faculty in the years since his retirement in 1999. 

Bob was born on October 21, 1929, in East Orange, New Jersey, to William Harvey Nunn and Marie Anthony Nunn. He worked hard to put himself through school, and he played in a band at different venues on the Jersey shore. He prepared for college at Columbia High School in Maplewood, New Jersey. He earned a BA at Rutgers University in 1951, followed by an MA at Middlebury College in 1955, and a PhD in French literature at Columbia University in 1966. It was while he was at Columbia that he met Linda Perry. They were married in 1959. 

Bob served in the US Army during the Korean War from 1951 to 1954, working with the Counter Intelligence Corps in France. He studied for a year at the Université de Paris in 1954-1955. In the years prior to his appointment to the Bowdoin faculty in 1959, Dr. Nunn taught French at Rutgers Prep School and was a lecturer in French at Columbia. Bob taught French in four summer sessions at the University of Maine and in two National Defense Education Act summer institutes for Franco-American teachers of French, and he was also director of a summer program for first-year high school students in Brunswick. 

Professor Nunn was the author of numerous articles, reviews, and papers presented at professional meetings and conferences. His coauthored The Yourcenar Collection, a Descriptive Catalogue (1984) is an invaluable resource for scholars studying the College’s collection of the papers and works of novelist Marguerite Yourcenar, the first woman elected to the Académie Française. Bob served as chair of the Department of Romance Languages in 1985-1986 and 1986-1987. He supervised the Independent Language Study Program in 1971-1972 and was for several years the faculty advisor to the sailing team. He returned to France as the director of the Sweet Briar College Junior Year in Paris in 1968-1969 and, in the spring of 1988, he was a visiting associate professor at the Université de la Bretagne Occidentale in Brest, France. When he retired, he was given emeritus status on the faculty and was elected an honorary member of the Bowdoin Alumni Association.

Bob was a devoted husband and loving father and grandfather. He loved reading and classical music, and he played classical guitar well into his eighties. He enjoyed exploring the southern Maine coast in his wooden sailboat. He is survived by his wife, Linda Jane Nunn ’75; his four children, Laura Nunn, Elizabeth Nunn, Kate Mini (Jeff), and Peter Nunn; and his six grandchildren, Claire Chiboub, Maggie and Sam Nunn, and Erik, Lucy, and Dylan Mini.

Visiting hours are scheduled from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Monday, March 20, at Brackett Funeral Home in Brunswick. A brief service is scheduled for noon on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, at the Maine Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery on Mt. Vernon Road in Augusta. The family suggests that donations in Bob’s memory may be made to the scholarship program at Bowdoin College.  

We share with Linda and the family a deep sense of loss at Bob’s passing. We also share with generations of Bowdoin students and faculty a profound sense of gratitude for the many ways in which Bob helped to shape life at the College over the years.


Clayton Rose

1 Comment Robert Nunn

  1. David Macomber

    I was a student of Professor Nunn and went on to major in French. I credit Professors Nunn and Geary for preparing me to earn a MA degree in French at U Mass and to become a French teacher at the secondary level for 46 years


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