Saturday, January 5, 2013
Remembering Bob Newbrough
When Roy Hutton called me to tell me that Bob had died the feeling of loss and sadness was deep and profound as I am sure it was for hundreds of folks around this world who knew him as a friend and mentor. He was truly a remarkable human being.
Roy had received a phone call from Bob’s wife Lynn soon after Bob had died. According to Roy, Bob’s three daughters and Lynn were all standing around his hospital bed with their hands on him when the doctors removed life-support. Bob will be cremated and his ashes spread among the Flatirons above Boulder.
Bob was born on Memorial Day, May 30, 1934 in Twin Falls, Idaho. He spent his youth on the family farm, helping to raise and harvest sugar beets.
In 1951 he graduated valedictorian of his high school class. Four years later he graduated magna cum laude from the College of Idaho with a BA in psychology. He earned his MA and PhD in psychology from the University of Utah in 1959.
After that he began a Fellowship in Community Mental Health at the Departments of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. After completing the Fellowship in 1960 he joined the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service, continuing his work in community psychology at the historic National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
He came to Peabody College and later Vanderbilt University in 1966. He was recruited by Dr. Nicholas Hobbs to become the Director of the Center for Community Studies at the Kennedy Center, as well as, the Director of the Psychology Program in the Department of Psychology at Peabody.
Bob was a significant figure in the founding of Community Psychology in the United States and a key figure internationally in the field for over half a century. He edited the Journal of Community Psychology for many years, earning the SCRA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research and Theory.
Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1993, he continued to be an active and influential leader in community mental health for nearly two decades. When I began to organize the Nicholas Group and put together an advisory board to create a national PBS documentary about the mental health delivery system for children and their families, Bob was one of the first people I contacted. The project would have never been accomplished without his willingness to share his knowledge, experience and his skill as an accomplished writer and editor.
In the end, what distinguished John Robert Newbrough from the rest of us, beyond his intellect, was not just his courage and integrity, his kindness and generosity, his quiet and gentle character, it was simply his concern and willingness to listen and offer help and compassion to others.