H. Robert Huntley, 89, of Lexington died Oct. 6

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H. Robert Huntley, 89, died peacefully at home in Lexington on Oct. 6, 2017.

Bob was born Sept. 13, 1928, in Virginia, Minn., to Howard and Marion Huntley. He was the scion of Ben and Myrtle Huntley, founders of one of the last great touring vaudeville companies, The Huntley Shows, which Bob’s grandfather Ben operated along with Carl Laemmle, who later became a movie producer and was a founder of Universal.

Bob grew up in Black River Falls, Wis., and was an avid and able hunter, pilot and athlete. In 1953, he wed Jill Perry, the elder daughter of Frances Roberts, who was the town librarian and Bob’s mentor. He took degrees in English literature and history from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the University of Illinois, and later expanded his doctoral dissertation into a definitive work on Ford Maddox Ford.

Joining the English faculty at Washington and Lee University in 1963, Bob taught courses in composition, English literature, and Soviet literature until his retirement in 1994. His long and distinguished service to W&L included an administrative period as the dean of freshmen, during which he recruited W&L’s first black students and led the task force responsible for the school’s transition to coeducation. He maintained that “You cannot effectively or accurately teach literature to men in the absence of the female perspective.”

His love of the outdoors and Rockbridge County’s natural wonders inspired Bob’s vigorous support for the establishment of the W&L Outing Club. Pursuing career interests abroad, he lived in Cambridge, Cairo and Corfu at various times, and with his partner, Nancy Margand, he explored places of interest in Africa, South America, the United Kingdom, and New Zealand as well as many of the U.S. National Parks. Despite the lure of world travel, Bob was always happiest at Upper Meadow, his farm in Alone Mill, Rockbridge County, where he was a keeper of bees, a lover of dogs, and a brewer of beer. “Malt does more than Milton can to justify God’s way to Man,” was a favorite expression.

Having chosen his best friends George Kosovic and Kirk Hughes as sons-in-law, he admired, valued and depended on them as sons. He was a gentle and wise father who lives on in his twin daughters, Eve Huntley and Rhea Kosovic, his granddaughters, Charis Hughes, Quin Montelius and Zoe Kosovic-Rios, and his great-granddaughter, Rona Montelius.

There is no plan for a funeral. The family requests that commemorations take the form of contributions to Rockbridge Area Hospice, 315 Myers St., Lexington, VA 24450 (rockbridgeareahospice.org).

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