The Passing of Professor Robert M. Kozelka

To the Williams Community,

It is with sadness that I report to you the death of Robert M. Kozelka, who taught in the Math Department from 1957 to 1988 and served as chair for five years. Bob died on Dec. 1 in Chapel Hill, N.C., at the age of 90.

Bob came to Williams after teaching at Tufts and the University of Nebraska. A native of Minneapolis, he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. from Harvard. He served briefly in the U.S. Army Air Corps before finishing his Ph.D.

His specialty was statistics, and the department honored Bob in 2001 when it established the Robert M. Kozelka Prize in Statistics, awarding it each spring to a promising statistics student.

In his service to Williams, Bob served on many faculty committees and was particularly instrumental on the committee that resulted in the establishment of the Anthropology Department, a field that also deeply interested him. He published extensively on the subjects of statistics and mathematics.

Bob was known for his great sense of humor, referring to himself as the “chair creature” of the Math Department. Upon retirement, I’m told he gave incoming department chair Frank Morgan a two-tailed coin that he said was to settle arguments. On a biographical data form he filled out in 1967, he listed his main hobby as “trying to get out of here and go south for the winter.” Indeed, when Bob retired, he and his wife left Williamstown and settled in Chapel Hill. In his retirement, he taught part-time at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, for 13 years.

In an oral history interview recorded by the Archives, Bob spoke of how supportive he was of abolishing fraternities at Williams, and how he felt admitting women “improved the intellectual climate about 1,000 percent.”

Bob was often spotted around campus wearing his deerstalker hat and smoking a pipe. He was an avid candlepin bowler, competing each year in the Williams Faculty Club bowling league and dominating the lanes there for 31 years, often recruiting new hires in the Math Department to the league.

Bob is survived by his wife, Carolyn Eckfeldt Kozelka; four sons: Paul, Tom, Jim, and Peter; his grandchildren, Caitlyn, Wyatt, Bryn, and Lucas; and three daughters-in-law: Jan, Beth, and Bia.

Our thoughts are with Bob’s family and friends.

Adam Falk