Robert G. Collmer
November 28, 1926 - November 21, 2018
Robert George Collmer, 91, of Waco, passed away peacefully at noon on Wednesday, November 21, 2018, at Ridgecrest Retirement and Health Center in the presence of his wife, Alys. A memorial service is set for 11:00 a.m., Thursday, November 29, at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, with The Rev. Kyle Childress officiating. Burial will follow at Oakwood Cemetery. Visitation will be from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m., Wednesday, November 28, at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home in Waco.
Bob, as he was known to friends and acquaintances, was born November 28, 1926, in Guatemala City to Christian missionaries, Rev. G. Russell and Constance C. Collmer. Despite a physician's warning at the time of his birth that he would not grow up physically or mentally strong, "Bobby" grew to be a six-foot-two-inch tall accomplished academician. He spent his early childhood in the Guatemalan town of Zacapa and proudly called himself a "Zacapateco." He established many lifelong friendships in Guatemala and made frequent trips "home" over the next 70 years as he continued to work with and support the churches his parents established in central Guatemala.
The family moved to Philadelphia when Bob was still a child. When Bob was a senior in high school, his father moved the family to Laredo, Texas, to be closer to Guatemala. Bob graduated from Martin High School in 1944 and was inducted into the U.S. Army the following year while a student at Howard Payne College. After his discharge, Bob enrolled at Baylor University in 1947, where he met his first wife, Linnie Maffett Burney. They married on her twenty-first birthday. He soon earned his B.A. in 1948 and his M.A. in 1949 from Baylor.
He and Linnie moved to Philadelphia that year to attend the doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania. After earning his Ph.D. in 1953, they returned to Texas as Linnie wanted their first child to be born there. Carol Linda was born December 31, 1954, and Mark Wesley was born two years later. Linnie passed away in 1979 after 31 years of marriage.
Dr. Collmer was a well-respected and well-known scholar. Bob's early fascination with John Donne and his poetry predated the national interest in this seventeenth-century English cleric and poet. He taught at institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania and Texas, as well as in Mexico, Paraguay and Jordan. He was active in university administration and served as chairman of the English departments at both Texas Tech and Baylor University. As Dean of the Graduate School at Baylor, he was active in strengthening the Hospital Administration and Physical Therapy degree programs with the U.S. Army at Fort Hood and founding the annual Beall Poetry Festival, The House of Poetry and the Beall-Russell Poetry Festival lecture series. He was recognized as Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus in 1995 by Baylor for his sustained superior scholarly performance. Bob's insatiable curiosity led him to write hundreds of scholarly articles across many academic disciplines and to edit multiple volumes. As a life-long learner, Bob continued to publish articles and participate in academic conferences long after he retired. He relished his collection of rare books. He spoke and read multiple languages, using his skills to translate a seventeenth-century Dutch diary and write Bible stories performed on the radio in Paraguay.
As graduate school dean, Bob continued to teach in the English department. This was where he met nurse and U.S. Army veteran Alys Edney, who invited him to the ballet in Dallas. Thus began their nearly 40-year relationship which took them around the world for pleasure and work. They spent several months in Holland shortly after they married in 1981. In 1997, they moved to Amman where Bob spent a semester teaching at the University of Jordan.
As an ordained minister, Bob was a devoted Christian and student of the Bible. Faithful his entire life, he exemplified the Christian life. He was loving and patient, bearing no ill will to anyone. He was kind, with a smile and twinkle in his eye and a warm, engaging demeanor. He and Alys were active members of Columbus Avenue Baptist Church, where Bob taught a men's Sunday School class for many years.
Bob was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Russ Collmer; and his first wife.
Bob is survived by his wife, Alys Edney Collmer; his daughter, Carol C. and husband, Donald W. McLaren, of Pinon, Arizona; his son, Mark W. Collmer of Houston; and nephew, Reed A. Collmer and wife, Linda Beck, of Sierra Vista, Arizona. He also leaves grandchildren Janet L. McLaren of League City, Susan E. McLaren of Lynchburg, Virginia, Christopher M. Collmer of Houston, and Chelsea L. Collmer of Waco.
Pallbearers include Reed Collmer, Janet McLaren, Chris and Chelsea Collmer, and Fred Allen. Honorary pallbearers include Mark Collmer, Don McLaren, Clement Goode, John Belew and Roger Brooks..
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that all donations be made in memorial to the Baylor Robert Collmer Family Scholarship fund at Baylor University.
The family invites you to leave a message or memory in our "Tribute Wall" at www.WHBfamily.com.