Reichert's Funeral & Cremation Services

7320 Auburn Blvd, Citrus Heights, CA


Robert Greenough Black

December 17, 1944August 30, 2019

Black, Robert G. 12/17/44-8/30/19

Robert Greenough Black was born on December 17, 1944, to Bill and Cynthia Black. They raised little Rob and his brothers Tom and Mark in Richmond, California. After high school, Bob enrolled in San Francisco State but interrupted his studies to join the Peace Corps where he spent two formative years, 1964-66, in Venezuela. His favorite tales were about times he played baseball with visiting North American future stars including Pete Rose and about the children he met building a park for them to manage after the volunteers left. Back home, Bob was pursuing an undergraduate degree at UC Berkeley when he attended a Spanish class with his future wife and sweetheart for life, Anne LaRiviere. On March 17, 1968, they wed in Palo Alto, California. Bob would go on to complete his master’s and PhD in Romance Languages and Literature at Berkeley, no small feat since his son Matthew was born in 1972, smack in the middle of his studies. Matt remembers modest married student housing and trips abroad where the Spanish moms called him “Rubio” for the blonde hair he inherited from his mother. In 1977, Bob accepted a professorship with Beloit College in Wisconsin. He adapted to Midwestern life by becoming a lifelong Brewers and Packers fan. Bob himself made fans in every class he taught, earning teaching awards and the affection of hundreds of students who were charmed by his enthusiasm and inspired by his encouragement. He led trips with students around the world, from Ecuador to Spain, bringing Anne and little Rubio whenever he could. Bob changed course in 1994 and accepted the position of Dean of the Faculty at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. It was in this verdant Milwaukee exurb that Bob discovered one of his great true loves, after his family and teaching: gardening. Bob took the coursework and examinations to become a Wisconsin master gardener and he loved being a part of the gardening community, as well as tending to his exceptional perennial gardens. He loved giving out his favorite gifts, compost bins and his recipe for compost tea. Bob added his beloved title of "Grampa" with the birth of Elliott in 2000 and his sister Miriam in 2005. He visited his grandkids whenever he could, whether at their home in Minneapolis with Matt and his wife Shannon Drury, or on memorable trips to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, and San Diego. He loved nothing better than teaching them something new, even if it meant marking up the errors in Dr. Seuss’s Spanish Dictionary for Children. Bob retired from Carroll in 2009, but he never stopped teaching and learning. He volunteered with local literacy councils and gardening clubs, and he kept sharp with modern Spanish novels and daily crosswords filled out in ink. In 2015, he and Anne relocated to Roseville, California. Bob dove into his new community, joining the Master Gardeners in Placer County and volunteering with the Literacy Support Council of Placer County. Even near the end of his life, he showed his devotion to his English language students by helping them with individualized lesson plans. Bob endured many medical challenges over the years but faced them all with courage and optimism. He died on August 30, 2019, surrounded by family who loved and cherished him. He was a leader, teacher, mediator, scholar, and above all friend. He was always a gentleman, kind, humble and considerate, and beloved by all who knew him. Bob was such an incurable optimist that he’d even have a glass-half full approach to this obituary. He would want us to celebrate the joys in his life--a career he genuinely loved, hobbies that made life interesting, a long happy marriage and a beautiful family. But we still wish he were here with us texting to Matt and Mark during the Brewers games and eating ice cream. Bob was preceded in death by his parents, his brother Tom, and his brother-in-law Phil LaRiviere, Jr. His wife of 51 years, Anne, their son Matt Black (Shannon Drury), and his grandchildren Elliott and Miriam Black survive him. His brother Mark and his nephews Robert (Julee) and Ryan, as well as sisters-in-law Celia LaRiviere (Jim Aruta), Ginny LaRiviere, and Carol Foran, and his mother-in-law Florence LaRiviere also survive him. The family wishes to extend their deepest gratitude to oncologists Dr. Antony Ruggeri in Wisconsin and Dr. Karen Kelly in Sacramento, along with their respective staffs, for their kind and compassionate care. The family held a private memorial. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Literacy Support Council of Placer County (www.placer.ca.gov/2154/Literacy-Support-Council) or the Placer Land Trust (www.placerlandtrust.org).


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Robert Greenough Black

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Linda Yaffe

September 14, 2019

Whenever Bob appeared, people gravitated toward him. His kindness beamed out like the sun. A natural-born teacher, he gently led people in a better direction.

Bob is greatly missed by us, his Literacy Support Council of Placer County colleagues, by the Placer County Library Literacy Program, PALS, by his fellow volunteer PALS tutors, and - most of all - by the many learners he helped to a better life through improved skills.

We share his family's sadness at his passing, and thank the friends, family, and co-workers who have donated to Literacy Support Council in his memory. Your generous gifts will help Bob's innovative work to continue to lift up lives.

Jack Street

September 13, 2019

Of all Bob's qualities and accomplishments, to me one stands out: He made people around him--colleagues, students, and friends--feel good about themselves. He will be missed.

My sincerest condolences to Anne, Matt, and other members of the family, and friends.

Jack Street

September 13, 2019

Of all Bob's qualifies and accomplishments, to me one stands out: He made people around him--colleagues, students, and friends--feel good about themselves. He will be missed.

My sincerest condolences to Anne, Matt, and other members of the family, and friends.

Tom Jones

September 13, 2019

I have so many wonderful memories of time spent with Bob. We would occasionally meet for breakfast and great conversation. We would spend 1 1/2 to 2 hours talking about books and current events, medicine and culture, sports and families. I always left feeling I had learned something and truly exchanged ideas with a friend. For Bob, the glass was always half full with a clear view to finding enough water to completely fill it. He was a positive spirit who gave so much and made everyone he met a better person.

Robert Black

September 12, 2019

I miss you uncle bob i love you and I know your watching down on us. I remember everytime we talked on the phone we talked about baseball and see how each other are doing i love you

Anne Smith

September 11, 2019

I will always have a special place in my heart for Bob as he was my first boyfriend. He lived just up the hill from my family. I always thought his fondness for me was mostly because he loved my parents. He stayed close to them after I went to Washington to college and eventually married a Washingtonian. I feel a heavy heart as I write this. I can't imagine losing ones life partner.

James Nie

September 11, 2019

When I arrived at Beloit 39 years ago it was Bob who took me aside and assured me that Beloit is the right place for me. He took care to make sure I survived the first years. I was sad when he left but was happy for him.

Although we had lost touch, he remains a treasure in my heart and soul.

Au revoir, mon ami!