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Robert A. Day, 97,
professor emeritus of English at the University of Delaware, who was
instrumental in the creation of UD’s academic concentration in business
and technical writing, passed away on Oct. 19, 2021, after a brief
Known on campus for his good humor and love of jokes, in addition to
his teaching skills, “he charmed his students into learning,” said
Deborah Andrews, professor emerita of English.
“Bob was a big man with a big heart and a real zest for life,” his
family said in a published obituary. “The world will be less fun without
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Robert A. Day
Trained as a librarian, Prof. Day worked in that capacity and as an
editor and assistant professor at the Institute of Microbiology at
Rutgers University and, later, as director of the Library of the College
of South Jersey. As managing editor at the American Society for
Microbiology, he directed the organization’s publications office for 19
In 1986, after serving as vice president of the Institute for
Scientific Information, he joined the faculty of UD’s Department of
English, where he taught courses in scientific and technical writing and
He was a former president of the Society for Scholarly Publishing and
past chairman of the Council of Biology Editors (now Council of Science
Editors). He authored Scientific English: A Guide for Scientists and Other Professionals and How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, which will soon be in its ninth edition and has been translated into many languages.
He is especially remembered at UD for his contributions to the technical writing concentration and for his fun-loving spirit.
“Bob Day joined three of us—Becky Worley, John Brockmann and me—in
creating and implementing the concentration in business and technical
writing within the English department,” Andrews said. “He loved jokes,
writing them down on index cards, and started each class with a joke
selected for that day's lecture.”
Robert Bethke, also a retired professor of English, remembered Prof. Day as “a wonderful colleague.”
“I don't recall a day not seeing him with the look of someone
enjoying what he did. He carried himself as a dedicated professional, a
gentleman, and he helped establish Business and Technical Writing as a
strength option within the undergraduate major,” Bethke said. “I had
students who spoke of him with admiration and fondness—somewhat a Burl
Ives figure in a number of ways, always positive. And, he was good at
humorous quips. One remembers certain colleagues as a ‘good man.’
Bob Day, for me, was one of them.”
Prof. Day lived close to campus, and Andrews said his home became a
gathering place for colleagues to share meals and holiday celebrations,
when he enthusiastically offered tastings from his collection of
“That gusto and a droll kind of energy are what I remember so vividly
about times with Bob, all in the context of advancing the teaching of
scientific, technical and business writing in the department,” Andrews
said. “What a run.”
Prof. Day was born in Belvidere, Illinois, where his family said the Ida Public Library opened the world for him.
After high school, he served in the Army during World War II, then
attended the University of Illinois and proposed to Betty Johnson the
day after they met. Their marriage lasted until her death 54 years,
three children, and five grandchildren later.
He worked at the public library in Newark, New Jersey, while earning a
master’s degree in library science at Columbia University and then went
on to positions in scientific and technical editing. He joined UD in
1986 and retired at the end of 1999, when he was granted emeritus status
in recognition of his work as “a widely respected expert in his field,”
the University said.
Prof. Day is survived by his children Nancy Sakaduski (Joe), Barton
Day (Sarah) and Robin Hirschhorn and grandchildren Hilary Day, Matthew
Sakaduski, Ian Day and Alexandra Hirschhorn.
He requested no funeral, and because he "always wanted to go to
medical school," he donated his body to science. His family suggested
that contributions in his name may be made to Planned Parenthood or any
Article by UDaily staff
Originally published November 18, 2021