Robert Bahr: A Man with a Vision

We mourn the loss of a passionate and devoted friend to the Kinsey Institute Library.

Bob Bahr was a man with a vision for more compassion and better humanity, and he believed in the research, education and preservation missions of the Kinsey Institute Library. He and his wife Alice Bahr, a retired librarian, envisioned the Kinsey Institute as the world leader for scholarly research that effects changes in societal values, so that sex positivism is embraced and acceptable.

Bob was an accomplished author, publishing his first poem at age 8, and his first book at age 20. He founded a press, Factor Press, to promote understanding of human sexuality.

I first met Bob in person in an American Library Conference, after years of communications about his contributions to the Kinsey Institute Library. Bob’s passion for knowledge, humanity and dedication to Kinsey Institute’s mission are both inspiring and empowering. Over the many decades, Bob had made extraordinary contributions to the Kinsey Institute Library of his writings, publications and collection. He loved the Kinsey Institute and Kinsey Collections so much that he and his wife decided to make an estate plan with Indiana University Foundation to benefit the Kinsey Institute Library.

We are forever grateful to Bob and his family for their trust and confidence in us. We have an impressive Robert Bahr collection, and welcome scholars and students to use his collection for research and education purposes in years to come.

 ~ Liana Zhou, Director, Kinsey Institute Library & Special Collections


Mr Bahr's obituary: 

The oldest of three boys born to Robert Albert Bahr and Katherine L. Kuebler, Bob Bahr didn't walk through life: He ran. When he was eight the school newspaper published his first poem. When 13, with money earned at a local grocery store, he purchased his first typewriter. It was a wise investment. Seven years later Moody Press published his first book, Man with a Vision, a biography of evangelist Percy Crawford. He loved working at Percy's camp in the Poconos, and Percy was so impressed with him, he made sure he got a small scholarship.

He started his education at Bob Jones University, transferred to Philadelphia College of the Bible, and was graduated from the King's College (Briarcliff Manor, NY). At King's he earned double degrees in philosophy and English, studied full time, worked part time, formed a gospel group and choir, and created a weekly radio show, Morning Melodies.

He always tried to live at least three lives, one committed to ideas, one to community, and one to professional achievement. Sometimes these overlapped, sometimes they co-existed in conflict. After a stint teaching high school English in Nazareth, PA,, he began a career at Rodale Press (Emmaus, PA),eventually becoming editor of Fitness for Living. As he had enjoyed working for/with Percy Crawford, he embraced J.I. Rodale's passion for theatre and auditioned at Actors Equity. This led to courses at Temple University for radio, television, and film, then to a Master's degree in Interdisciplinary Humanities at the University of West Florida.

In 1972 he launched a freelance career, writing more than 800 articles for such publications as TV Guide, Parade, Smithsonian, Sports Illustrated, Boy's Life, Kiwanis, and Popular Mechanics, among many others. His short stories appeared in Drummer, EFQ, Genesis, Genre, and Negative Capability and his poem "Icarus Ascending" won a prize from the Alabama State Poetry Society. The Mobile branch of the American Pen League Pen Women, Inc. accorded him its Remembering Back Award for an essay heralding school librarian Juanita Helmar who had encouraged him to read more "challenging" books: "A Belated Tribute to a Lover of Books." In addition to poems, stories and articles, his passion for research led to a number of books: Least of All Saints (Prentice-Hall), Blizzard (Prentice-Hall), Blizzard at the Zoo (Lothrop, Lee & Shepard), Virility Factor (Putnam's), Good Hands: Massage Techniques for Total Health (New American Library), and Hibernation Response (Arbor House). Several of these were translated into German and Japanese.

Ever the citizen, he founded a press to assist Mobilians reach their own publishing goals, facilitating the publication of Mobile Memories (Senior Citizens Services, Mobile), Children First: the Camp Seale Harris Story, and S. Albert Kennington's From the Day of Small Things: The Story of Trinity Church. He published many other Mobile authors' works as well, including Dr. John Shackleford's Science and Religion, the Reverend P.H. Lewis Senior's story of working with Martin Luther King Jr., Selma the Other Side of 1965, and Elaine Phelps's touching account of her son's battle with bone cancer, The Best I Can. His love for his adopted city of Mobile comes through clearly in his article in Literary Mobile, "Living and Dying in Mobile" (Negative Capability Press). "The magic of Mobile is in its people. It's the whole mix…the harmony of it that makes Mobile different from any other town I've known. It's a delicately, perfectly seasoned gumbo, a people-gumbo….All things being equal, I'd rather die in Mobile." Those who love him mourn that last wish, but they celebrate, as only Mobilians can, his life of achievement, his commitment to others, and his dedication to seeking truth.

If you would like to honor his accomplishments, consider a contribution to the Robert and Alice Bahr Fund, the Kinsey Institute, Indiana University, Morrison Hall 4th Floor, 1165 East Third Street, Bloomington, IN 47405-3700. A private, family service will be held in the Poconos.

Published in the Mobile Register and Baldwin County on Feb. 18, 2018


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