Robert C. Atchley

Atchley—Robert C. Atchley, 79, on November 13, 2018, in Boulder, Colo. Bob was born on September 18, 1939, in San Antonio, Tex. He married Sue Hyser in 1961, and that same year graduated with a dual major in sociology and psychology from Miami University. He and Sue had two children, Christopher and Melissa. He completed a doctorate in sociology from American University in 1965 and returned to Miami University in 1966 as a professor and director of the Scripps Gerontology Center, becoming a convinced Quaker and joining Oxford (Ohio) Meeting that year.

With a lifelong interest in singing, he began writing songs in the 1970s. He married Sheila J. Miller in 1976; she had a son, also named Christopher. Two visits to India with Sheila in 1978 and 1979 to be with teacher of existential spirituality Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj profoundly influenced his spiritual journey, and he later encouraged and supported the spirituality of others, publishing “spirituality” entries in three encyclopedias. Miami University named him Distinguished Professor of Gerontology in 1986. He was president of the 10,000-member American Society on Aging in 1988–1990 and held positions in other national social gerontology professional organizations. He also served on the boards of several national, state, and local philanthropic organizations and was well loved for his work with positive aging and Sage-ing International. He retired from Miami University in 1998 and moved to Boulder, where he chaired the gerontology program at Naropa University. He transferred his membership to Boulder Meeting in 1999. After retiring from academia in 2004, he began studying and practicing to be a professional-grade singer-songwriter.

At Boulder Meeting he served as treasurer in 2015–17; convened Program, Service, and Finance Committees; and served on Ministry and Counsel, Grief and Bereavement, Higher Education Fund, Toward Right Relationship Oversight, and Fellowship Committees. Friends treasured his wisdom and sense of humor in Quaker studies groups and his sharing of his spiritual journey.

More than a million people got their introduction to social gerontology by reading his textbook Social Forces and Aging, which went through ten editions from 1972 to 2004. His books Continuity and Adaptation in Aging and Spirituality and Aging were also widely read. He wrote more than 25 books, published more than 40 original songs and four music CDs, and performed for a variety of audiences, mostly around Boulder and at national conferences. Just a few short weeks before his death, he sang his song “Friends,” accompanying himself on his guitar. He loved life and expressed this love by his ready smile, making music, writing, a sweet serve, skiing, sailing, and listening to mountain streams. He loved good conversation and hanging out with Sheila, his children, grandchildren, and cherished friends. He and Sheila shared an astounding journey. She was his guiding light, closest friend, and love-song muse. Their life together was an ongoing testimony to the many possible levels of loving, the power of trust and tenderness, and the rewards of staying spiritually connected.

Bob leaves behind his wife, Sheila Miller Atchley; three children, Melissa Atchley, Christopher Atchley, and Christopher Miller; and four grandchildren.

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