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Robert Volz, 80

May 30, 2018

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Robert "Bob" Volz, longtime custodian of the Chapin Library at Williams College, who served from 1977 until his retirement in June 2015, died on May 30, 2018, in Chicago, Ill. He was 80.

Bob served as the fifth Chapin custodian. Retiring after 38 years, he was also the longest serving. During his tenure, the library's collection tripled in size. Notable additions included the archives of American sculptor Daniel Chester French and the Heritage Collection of African-American and International Black poetry and culture. He also acquired an original copy of the Declaration of Independence, printed on July 4, 1776, one of only 26 examples known to survive and the only copy known to have belonged to a signer of the Declaration.

Bob also made the Chapin an important resource for raising awareness of key global issues. In 1998, he organized a major exhibition, "Facing Facts: Posters and Prevention in the Age of AIDS," which covered aspects of the AIDS crisis that gripped the world beginning in the early 1980s.

Before arriving at Williams, Bob worked at the libraries of Northwestern University, Bowdoin College and the University of Rochester. He received a bachelor's degree in English from Marquette University in 1961 and a master's in library science from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1963.

Throughout his life, Bob's passion for rare books never diminished. An avid classical music aficionado, Bob was an active friend of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and after his retirement moved to the city he always loved.


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