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July 9, 2015

Obituary: Donald A. Robbins

Robbins, DonDonald A. Robbins, a well-known figure in Pitt-Bradford’s chemistry department, died June 27, 2015, at his home in Prentisvale, Pennsylvania, following a lengthy illness. He was 57.

Born in Olean, New York, Robbins was a lifelong resident of the Bradford area. He earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry at St. Bonaventure and his master’s degree in chemistry at The State University of New York-Fredonia.

Over the course of a 33-year career at Pitt-Bradford, Robbins taught chemistry and later worked as a lab technician. He served as UPB’s hazardous waste officer for more than 25 years and was a member of the UPB Faculty Senate health and safety committee.

Robbins was hired in 1980 as an assistant instructor of chemistry and took on the role of hazardous waste officer in 1988. He was promoted to instructor of chemistry in 1999.

When his faculty position was eliminated in 2003, Robbins continued in his part-time staff role of hazardous waste officer. In 2013 he became a full-time laboratory technician in biology and chemistry, continuing in that role until January 2014.

Francis Mulcahy, director of the UPB chemistry program, said Robbins took on a wide range of duties in the chemistry department, at times handling ordering supplies, supervising work-study students and ensuring the facilities were organized and orderly.

Mulcahy remembered Robbins as a friendly colleague who displayed great kindness and devotion to his students. “He took time with them. He was a great teacher,” Mulcahy said. “He brought into the chemistry program a lot of students who otherwise wouldn’t have been chemistry majors.”

Robbins’ caring attitude extended to colleagues as well. When Mulcahy first came to the campus, Robbins reached out to make him feel welcome. “He made me feel part of the family,” extending social invitations and taking him hunting.

The son of a noted gunsmith, Robbins enjoyed deer and turkey hunting, fishing and trap shooting. He also was an Eagle Scout.

Robbins was a member of the American Chemical Society, the National Environmental Training Association and the Eldred Conservation Club.

Robbins enjoyed spending time with his young granddaughter and was looking forward to a second grandchild on the way, Mulcahy said.

Robbins is survived by his wife of 31 years, Andrea Robbins, who is a UPB chemistry faculty member; son Donnie Robbins; daughter Christine Snyder and son-in-law Mitch Snyder; granddaughter Kara Snyder; brother Clair Robbins, and sister-in-law Rose Robbins.

Memorial donations may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Association.

—Kimberly K. Barlow    

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