In the early 1990s, I was a resident fellow at the Virginia Humanities (then the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities), where I first met Rob Vaughan. Afterward, I was the organization’s downstairs neighbor for about five years, so I had a continuing relationship with him.
My recollections of those times include not only the incredible people and scholars assembled at Virginia Humanities, but also the warm and inviting intellectual atmosphere created there.
As a staff member at a foundation whose research agenda focused on the future of democracy, I was particularly struck by the inclusion of the public and the engaged scholarship that was both funded and advanced by the organization. Rob and others fostered that environment.
Rob’s persona, to all who knew him, was one of friendliness and collaboration. He was interested in your work, first and foremost, even just during a meeting on the street. I am sure this is true for all who knew him well or even casually.
But the story I want particularly to share is about the human side of Rob Vaughan. When we had our son in 1991, shortly after my fellowship had ended, Rob and Ellen Vaughan were the first to visit us in the hospital — excited and supportive at our good news. When I would see him later, he would always inquire about my family and share stories about his. That was not a part of his job description. I suspect there are many examples of times that he reached out to countless others on a strictly personal level.
The T-shirt slogan “Perform a Simple Act of Kindness” is often not so simple in these turbulent times. It always was for Rob Vaughan.
Suzanne Morse Moomaw, Charlottesville