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Former Assistant Director Bob Galbreath Dies

Courage is often identified as a dramatic act of bravery in combat, saving someone’s life at personal risk, or some other heroic action.  There is, however, a quieter kind of courage that all too often goes unrecognized.

Bob Galbreath, who died on February 1, exemplified this quieter courage.  After serving as Assistant Director for Collection Management in Jackson Library beginning in 1990, Bob was stricken with multiple sclerosis and found it necessary to stop working due to disability in 2000, officially retiring in 2004. For over fifteen years Bob fought this dread illness with determination and optimism.  Though confined totally to his bed and unable to attend scholarly presentations or conferences or cultural events that he loved, Bob never lost his love of life or his sense of humor. 

A dedicated scholar with a Ph.D. in history, Bob taught at the college level, served for a number of years as director of the honors program at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and held responsible positions at the libraries at Northwestern University and Loyola University before coming to UNCG.  He was a voracious reader with interests in a wide spectrum of fields, and even a casual conversation with Bob revealed his erudition in many subjects.  During his varied career he published articles and book reviews in such areas as religion, history and political science, philosophy, popular culture, and library science. 

More than most people who have not had to face a continuous ordeal of surgeries and long hospital stays, Bob stayed abreast of world events and new developments through books, newspapers, magazines, TV and the Internet, always finding something new and interesting and always eager to engage his visitors in conversation over some new or controversial issue.  

 Never complaining, Bob Galbreath inspired his friends with his indomitable spirit and optimism in the face of his unrelenting illness.  Bob served as a prime exemplifier of quiet courage and dignity, and he will be greatly missed.

Prepared by his friend and colleague, Dr. Bill Finley, former Director of Special Collections and University Archives at the University Libraries