Robert Hinkle, 67, Beloved Library Employee


By Jeff Coltin

Just two weeks ago, Robert Hinkle was there to support me. I was facing down a deadline — a reflection on Intelligent Design was due in an hour and I had not started writing. I sat down in the copy room on the first floor of the library for close access to the printers, and Bob was there, like always.

He had first helped me three years ago when, as a fresh-faced freshman, I was staring at the library printer in utter confusion. He walked me through it, explaining the deceptively simple process of clicking, typing, swiping and tapping that results in a printed paper.

Since then, he was always good for a smile, a quick hello and sometimes a question about what you were working on.
This last time was no different. When my furious typing paused for a moment, Bob asked what I was working on. It was a simple question, but it meant a lot to a student under the gun. It helped clarify my thoughts, and planted the idea that I was not totally alone in this struggle. People were on my side and cared about what I had to write.

And, it was not just me. In my 60 minutes in the copy room, he talked to everyone that passed though. Some just exchanged a quick ‘hello’ and ‘how are you’ and others got into conversations. One talked about how her semester was going; another, a football player, confided in Bob that he was sad to see the season — and his career — end. It may have been small talk, but you got the impression that Bob was truly interested in what was going on in your life.

Despite all this, I barely knew the man. I never knew his name until I saw his desk in the copy room last week, empty except for a message announcing his death.

Bob who was born on June 18, 1947 passed away at home on Feb. 21. He had worked at the Fordham Library, both Duane and Walsh, since 1986.

He had an appetite for learning, attending St. Peter’s College undergrad and receiving a Masters from Queens College while pursuing further graduate studies at SUNY Binghamton. He loved to paint, speak French, talk politics and fish for striped bass.

He may best be remembered in his own words, quoted in a March 10, 2004 Fordham Ram article profiling the unsung heroes of Fordham.

When asked his favorite part of working in the library, Mr. Hinkle said. “The best part is interacting with the students, faculty and staff. It keeps me awake and alive, holds body and soul together.”