Robert P. Thayer ’74

Robert P. Thayer ’74 died on November 5, 2015, in East Providence, Rhode Island.

(The following appeared in The Providence Journal on Nov. 8, 2015):

THAYER, ROBERT P. Award winning Providence Journal photographer, Bob Thayer passed away Thursday November 5, at his home in E. Providence after a brief illness. He was 63. He is predeceased by his father Ralph Bruce Thayer Jr. MD and is survived by his loving mother Lois. In addition he is survived by his brother-in-law and sister Dirk and Susanne Kramers, his brother and wife Bruce and Denise Thayer, aunts, uncles, cousins and nephews, located principally in the New England and California. Bob was born September 5, 1952 and grew up in Enfield Connecticut. During his formative high school years he became interested in journalism as a photographer for the annual yearbook and school newspaper. This was a period characterized by increased concern for the environment. As a result, his journalistic drive further developed when he embarked on an independent project to locate sources of pollution along the Connecticut River. In an article published in the Hartford Courant, he and a classmate exposed serious chemical dumping being done by a local large company. The publication caught the attention of local authorities who moved to have the factory rectify the issue. Bob began to realize the powerful contribution he could make to society through journalism. Bob attended Bowdoin College where he graduated cum laude with a Philosophy Degree in 1974. In addition to the core curriculum he took courses on creative photography and critical writing furthering his journalistic skills. He went on to Columbia University where he graduated with a Masters Degree in Journalism. He often spoke of his daily trips into the toughest, most impoverished, areas of NYC to produce stories, about all walks of life, for the daily school paper. After university, Bob went to work for the Royal Viking Cruise Lines where he was assigned to publish the ship’s daily newspaper. He toured the major port cities of Scandinavia, the Mediterranean, and the eastern US. Then he went to the Norwich Bulletin for about three years prior to joining the Providence Journal in December 1978. Over the course of his 37 year career at the Journal Bob earned numerous awards, including several from the prestigious World Press Photo Foundation. In 1995 his stark photo of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta won First Place in the arts category of the World Press Photographers Contest. A Journal colleague commented that “He had a reputation for creating art from just about any assignment, always looking for the remarkable in the ordinary”. For more on his prolific photojournalistic career see the Bob would have encouraged you to take a child fishing, enjoy an art museum, and find the amazement in the world around you!

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