2 thoughts on “Robert Geddes

  1. Barbara Figge Fox

    Engaged with his projects and liberal politics to the last, he entertained and informed fellow residents of Stonebridge at Montgomery at occasional presentations. Aided and encouraged by another resident, the politically savvy Ingrid Reed, he railed against the potential destruction of his beloved Liberty State Park and fretted about the future of Philadelphia’s Roundhouse. He also loved to speak about his former students who now lead departments at prestigious universities, and he devoted time and energy to the work of Princeton Future.

    From an early age, Geddes was known to be a convener, most recently as a co-founder of Princeton Future. He continued that at Stonebridge, starting a “Guy’s Group” to discuss issues of the day. After his cherished wife Evelyn died, he was especially lonely on Sunday afternoons and instigated — with help from Julia Bowers Coale, president of the Residents’ Association — informal teas on Sunday afternoons.

    Geddes and his wife Evelyn moved to Stonebridge when they were in excellent health and were still traveling abroad. With their new Stonebridge friends, George and Barbara Wright, they visited museums in New York and Philadelphia and attended performances on Broadway and at Caramoor in upstate New York. Many Stonebridge friends helped Geddes in his last years. After his wife died, two of them – Jeff Tener and Barbara Wright — committed to have pizza with him every Friday.

  2. Jeffrey B Tener


    December 7, 2023 – February 13, 2023

    There was a well-attended and moving memorial service in the large auditorium on Feb. 18, honoring and celebrating the life of Robert Louis Geddes who, along with his wife, Evelyn, was a Stonebridge pioneer. The program included two of our residents, Ingrid Reed and Richard Fenn, who made scheduled and poignant remarks. Several other residents spoke spontaneously.

    Bob was a social person and loved getting together with his friends, colleagues, students and former students. To help him cope with the loss of his wife, he made a point of arranging regular dinner and other meetings with several people at Stonebridge. Barbara Wright and I were regulars with him in his apartment on Friday nights for pizza (unless his aide decided to make us lamb chops, baby peas and mashed potatoes when it was his turn to buy).

    I had prepared a few words that I thought I might offer during the program but it was long so I decided not to ask to speak. What I wanted to do was to convey what I think was a distinguishing feature of Bob’s and that is the way he thought. That, to me, was the feature that made him such a compelling Friday night dinner companion these last several years. The words that came to my mind to describe his thinking include the following:

    Bob thought broadly, inclusively, incisively, optimistically, generously, globally, locally, incessantly, relentlessly, creatively, humanely, positively, loyally, engagingly, humorously, farsightedly, and considerately.

    These are the words that describe the man to me. He was full of stories and full of himself (as very few of us have a right to be) but he also could listen, at least after he had conveyed several of the most important things on his mind from the prior week. There always was a lot going on in his brain and much to talk about. Laughing was a regular and necessary component.

    At the end of the memorial service, I was part of a discussion that illustrated Bob’s impact on his students and the connections that he forged with them but, even more important, the camaraderie he enjoyed with them and how completely he embraced them in his life. This was something he talked about frequently but I seldom was able to witness it firsthand. I was talking to Bob’s son, David, when we were joined by Harrison Fraker. David introduced him to me as a former student of Bob’s. Professor Fraker, who Bob also hired as a faculty member at Princeton as well as at his architecture firm, was the dean of the College of Environmental Design at UC Berkeley and before that was the dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota. The Dean clearly was delighted to see David and later I saw him hugging and talking animatedly to Bob’s daughter, Ann, with real warmth and affection. Bob often talked about the entertaining that he and Evelyn did and it was clear that the recurring dinner parties held at the Geddes’ residence with students and others had resulted in the formation of life-lasting friendships.

    As David said to me, this was not an event designed for Bob’s architect friends, but it certainly was an event for his Stonebridge friends and local friends and even for those architecture friends who were in the area and able to attend.

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