The text of readings from the memorial service held at UNH on Friday, September 21, 2001 is now available here.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to a memorial fund which will be used to provide scholarship assistance for a UNH student. Donations may be made to the Robert G. LeBlanc Memorial Fund c/o The UNH Foundation, 9 Edgewood Road, Durham, N.H. 03824.
Please do not publish the photos on this page with the exception of the one indicated below.
Below is Andrea's letter of thanks to those who have contributed their thoughts to this site.
I am finally doing what I have been intending to do for 9 months, namely writing to thank all of you for your contributions to Bob's website. I hope the email addresses I am using are still correct and that you all get this.
First, I want to thank Eliot Shepard for creating the website in the first place and for keeping it updated. It was a wonderful idea...one I would not have thought of. I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart! There are still people who are just now finding it and appreciating all the amazing letters.
Second, I want to thank all of you for taking the time and caring enough to write what you did about Bob. It was enormously generous of you. Bob would have been both overwhelmed and somewhat embarrassed because he was a such a very humble person. When he retired in Jan. of 1999, he made me promise not to give him a "Retirement Party". He said he didn't want to put anyone in the awkward position of having to say nice things about him! If he could only know what all of you have written about him he would have to accept the genuineness of your words and feelings.
I know some of you personally and some of you not at all. There are stories you have told that we have heard in our family and some that were revelations. Bob's life, like his curiosity (probably because of it) was huge in a way. He would have argued that he was only a quiet college professor doing the best job he could with the material he had. The thing is "the material" was him!!! He was the most humble, kind, generous, interested and interesting man I have ever known. He gave far more than he took. He loved people, he loved life, and he encouraged us to do so too. His curiosity was insatiable and his respect for people with different origins, with different ideas was monumental. He loved the foreigness of places, the planning for and the getting and the being there, the unknownness, hearing the music, smelling the smells, talking with the people, tasting the food, standing in the holy places. He chose to seek answers by going out into the broader world to see for himself and to come to his own conclusions...but he never had preconceived notions about what he would find. He always sought the perspective of the other. Bob believed that meeting people on their own ground with a willingness to try to know and understand the problems they struggle with and the joys they celebrate makes our common humanity more obvious and undeniable. He was so very pleased when he kindled the spark in others and encouraged them to go off on their own journeys of discovery.
Bob was the most open, accepting, and happy person I've ever known. At some point in our more recent travels to various Buddhist countries I began to realize that happiness is a choice. As I thought more about it, I began to realize that this was something Bob knew all along and practiced his entire life. He did choose happiness. He has been a model for me , as he obviously has been for you, and I owe him a huge debt. He made my world and our kids' worlds richer, more interesting, bigger than they would have been if left to our own devises. And he did it in a way that engendered in all of us a wish to go on seeking and learning and understanding. Prof. Sandy Drysdale, at Bob's Memorial service last Sept., read a quote from the Qur'an: "O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other." (The rest of that quote is, I think, "not that you may hate each other") al-Qur'an 49:13. Ironically, as Prof Drysdale said, "Bob more than kept his part of the bargin, devoting his life to knowing the nations and tribes of the world. For over thirty-five years he shared that encyclopedic knowledge in the classroom and on field trips with thousands of students, immeasurably enriching and expanding their world... What are the grievances of some Muslims and many Arabs against our government? Bob knew, because he always tried to understand. It fills me with such grief and sorrow that this remarkable, gentle, and curious man, who devoted his life to knowing and understanding the nations and tribes of the world, should be silenced by those who did not even try."
It is a great treasure to have all of your stories to add to our own about a man we loved dearly. I am glad to know that he affected all of your lives so profoundly. And I am even more pleased to know that there is a legacy, Bob's legacy, that through you, through all of us who knew him, will go on helping people understand more about our common humanity and because of that learn compassion and help make this a kinder, saner world.
Please, know you have my sincere thanks and that of our five children and grandchildren (present and future) and our extended family and friends. Because of your contributions we know Bob better than we certainly would have without them and we are blessed with the knowledge that through all of you... not just us... the world is made a better place in part because we all knew Bob and his example was so compelling.
May we all seek understanding, proceed with patience, teach tolerance, act compassionately, live with respect, celebrate life, and choose happiness... as Bob did.
Andrea N. LeBlanc
These remembrances fall into: (1.) what we learned in and (2.) outside classrooms from this wonderful man. Mine is outside-classroom. Plus a shot of anti war and partisan politics.
I hesitated over the decorum of such email to this page. Then I remembered Prof. LeBlanc's moustached grin. And read Prof. Wallace's remembrance of their morning conversations over the Globe on many topics. I think Prof. LeBlanc would approve, at least, of having the dialogue continue.
I write in July 2005. I hope Time has done some of that healing (for which it's touted) for his family. But also, I hope re-visitors to these words find comfort that there are many who hold Prof. LeBlanc's memory dear--who, for one reason or another, aren't yet on these pages. The large number of remembrances here is probably an iceberg tip.
I last saw Prof. LeBlanc in 1970. It is an image since recalled in the context of duty in Vietnam, then in Saudi Arabia, the 2000 presidential selection by the Supreme Court, the 2004 Ohio presidential manipulation, and now Vietnam Quagmire II.
Some background: by coincidence, by previous invitation, one day after the May 4, 1970, Kent State Massacre of students by the Ohio National Guard, Chicago Seven figures Abbie Hoffman et al spoke at U.N.H. Thus our student strike dialogue was poignant and scary.
As a "returned veteran," I was enveloped in the public-speaking-fear of telling students in the hockey rink that "a 'strike' merely equals a vacation; give up something valuable like a semester's grades." I recall the audience's dissenting groans, boos. And I recall the only faculty--Prof. Bob LeBlanc--circling, walking among the crowd. He was "there" for us.
Probably other faculty were there too but it was Prof. LeBlanc who--you just "knew"--would embrace broadmindedness, a look at the geography of The World rather than of the little real estate of those in Washington postponing "peace with honor" for partisan political purposes.
I don't know Prof. LeBlanc's politics then nor what they'd be today, but I doubt he'd be in the "git 'em dead or alive" camp.
The precious qualities of this intellectually curious gem, Prof. LeBlanc, seem increasingly crucial to this country's health. Understanding other cultures before we arrogantly, recklessly send MORE troops into MORE foreign geographies which we don't understand well enough was important in 1970, is more so today and Prof. LeBlanc would have kept the dialogue spirited and fruitful.
Recalled to duty in Desert Storm, enduring stateside pundits claiming they too were "there" because they'd "seen it on CNN," some of us in-country envisioned a tee shirt caption: "If you weren't there, you weren't there."
Family and friends, I hope it's valuable to know that far away in miles and now time, Prof. LeBlanc's having just "been there" endures as an unforgettable memory. And another step toward figuring out the geography of our hearts, of our minds, of our country and of our planet.
Lieutenant Commander, U.S. Navy Reserve (Ret.) U.N.H., Class of 1973
I took introduction to Geography with Professor Leblanc roughly 9 years ago and what a wonderful class it was! I was on the UNH site today- almost 2 years after the 9/11 attacks- and was deeply saddened and shocked to read about the loss of Professor Leblanc. I only had limited dealings with Bob, but I knew him as a kind hearted, genuine and interesting man who always had time for his students. He had an infectious enthusiasm and kindness that made for a brilliant classroom environment and it was on many occasions that we would stay behind to gain clarity on a subject or simply to talk to someone who was truly a pleasure to know. Bob will be sorely missed by all who knew him.
Below is the formal letter of endowment for the Robert G. LeBlanc Memorial Fund, signed by Andrea and University officials in June 2002.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
for the Robert G. LeBlanc Memorial Fund
I. The Robert G. LeBlanc Memorial Fund is established at the University of New Hampshire Foundation, Inc., through the generosity of family and friends of Robert G. LeBlanc, Class of 1959 and Professor Emeritus of Geography. Bob was born on October 30, 1930, in a Franco-American neighborhood in Nashua. After graduating from Nashua High School in 1949, he enlisted in the Air Force, which allowed him to travel extensively. Upon completion of his tour of duty, he entered the University of New Hampshire, where he initially studied geology. While attending the University of Oslo Summer School in Oslo, Norway in 1955 he worked on a glacier and then attended University of London, in London, England. After spending two five-month tours with the Geophysics Research Directorate Terrestrial Sciences Division of The Air Force Cambridge Research Center in the summer of 1957 and spring of 1958 as a research assistant on Ice Island T3 in the Arctic he changed his major to history and graduated from UNH with a B.A. in 1959. He then pursued graduate studies at the University of Minnesota, specializing in historical geography which for him was the synthesis of his interests in human culturesand their place in the physical world. Bob's master's thesis was on the Acadian migrations, and his doctoral dissertation looked at the development of manufacturing in New England in the 19th century. Bob joined the faculty at the University of New Hampshire in 1963 when the geography program was in its infancy and helped build the program. He remained active in research and teaching even after his official retirement in 1999, focusing his work on historical geography and Canadian studies and was an advisor in The Center for International Education at UNH. For 16 yrs. Bob was a UNH representative with Interhostel and sheparded groups to the farflung corners of the globe. Travel was his passion and he availed himself of every opportunity to travel with fellow geographers, family, like-minded friends or on his own. He was active in a number of professional geographical and Franco-American organizations and was a founding member of the Eastern Historical Geography Association and an Incorporator of the Franco-American Cultural Center in Manchester, N.H. He received the Distinguished Service award from the New England-St. Lawrence Valley Geographical Society in 1988.
Bob spent his life pursuing a better understanding of people and the reasons they lived where they lived, spoke the languages they spoke, ate the food that they ate, engaged in the livelihoods that they did, and believed what they believed. He was insatiably curious and open. He delighted in the variousness of cultures. He was respectful and did not judge or condemn. He was forever eager to visit foreign lands, speak with the people, taste the food, hear the music, and stand in the holy places to better know his fellow human beings. Bob celebrated the wondrous diversity he found in the world...AND he shared this wonder and excitement and respect with his students, family, and friends. He made a distinction between being a "tourist" and being a "traveler and student of culture". He chose the later and tried to impress upon us the relevance of this distinction.
Bob believed that meeting other people on their own ground with a willingness to try to know and understand the problems they struggle with and the joys they celebrate makes our common humanity more obvious and undeniable. He was so very pleased when he kindled the spark in others and encouraged them to go off on their own journeys of discovery.
Bob was committed to his family and encouraged and supported his wife and five children in every possible way. He was a happy, kind and generous human being who gave much more than he took.
Bob died as a result of the tragic terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 while on his way to a geography meeting. He was aboard United Airlines Flight 175. It is ironic that this gentle and curious man, who devoted his life to understanding the nations and tribes of the world, and who believed we should too, should be silenced by those who didn't even try. Besides the very sad and personal loss those who knew Bob feel, the whole world is a poorer place for Bob's absence. However, it is a far richer and kinder place because he lived and shared his enthusiastic love of this world with us. It is the wish of all those involved with this scholarship that we may all seek understanding, proceed with patience, teach tolerance, act compassionately, live with respect, celebrate life and choose happiness... as Bob did.
II. The purpose of the Robert G. LeBlanc Memorial Fund is to provide financial assistance to allow University of New Hampshire undergraduate students to participate in an international study experience, through the Center for International Education or a similar successor program. The fund is intended to support students studying human culture and place, with preference given to geography majors. Recipients will be selected and awards will be administered by the Director of the Center for International Education or his/her designee.
III. All monies received for the Robert G. LeBlanc Memorial Fund become the absolute property of the University of New Hampshire Foundation, Inc., and may be invested and reinvested without restriction as to kind as Foundation Board of Directors may direct. The fund, by donor designation, is intended to be a permanent endowment where the principal is preserved and future growth in the fund shall be restricted only for the purposes described here. The Foundation's pooled investments are managed at the sole discretion of the Foundation Board of Directors, which establishes the investment, payout, and management fee policies. Additions may be made to the principal of this fund at any time.
IV. The UNH Foundation will provide a designated family member with an annual report on the performance of the fund as well as a brief report on its use, including the name and brief biographical sketch of any student supported by the fund.
V. The UNH Foundation may list the name of this fund in annual reports or other publicly distributed documents at its discretion.
VI. If, at some later date, the purposes for which this fund was established are no longer possible or practical, the Board of Directors of the University of New Hampshire Foundation, Inc., in consultation with the University President, may designate an alternate related University of New Hampshire purpose.
My name is Charlie Hackett and I was a very good friend of Bob. We lived one block apart and in Nashua and we became playmates and schoolmates in the 9th grade. I had a brother and two sisters and Bob became the fifth youngster in our family. He often hung around our house, accompanied us on trips to the beach and midget races and we both played in the High School Band. He was a trombonist. However, it wasn't until our senior year that we sat in the same class - elective physics - because Bob enrolled in the Vocational Arts Curriculum. He did not have the money or the correct courses to enter college so he enlisted in the Air Force.
During my junior year at UNH he was discharged and he enrolled at the school (UNH). He had written me often from England, Puerto Rico and Alaska. In my senior year we rented an apartment on So. Main St. and Bob cooked - meatloaf 3 days and pasta twice - on the weekend we often traveled to my folks Rye Beach home for steak and potatoes while watching the pro football games.
After graduation I worked in the family business for a year and then joined Bob who was living with a young English lawyer in North London. I stayed for the month until I received a scholarship from Johns Hopkins Bologna Center and left for Italy. I saw Bob later that year in Germany.
While traveling in Spain Bob wrote me some years later about the beauty and culture of southern Spain. I took several winter trips there and became so enamored of the country and its people that I left business - went to Madrid, got a degree in Spanish, and taught it at Portsmouth High for 25 yrs.
Once I gave a talk and slide show on Spanish bullfighting to one of Bob's classes.
Subsequently we lost contact with each other although we lived in Rye Beach since 1963. I did call him in 1983 when my oldest son was college hunting and I called Bob to get Edgar's phone number for his opinion on an aeronautical course.
Bob was the one who really got me to travel - from bike trips to hitchhiking around Europe. His academic success despite his vocational high school background always amazed me. His constant playing of classical music in the apartment showed me there was more than just Jazz. I shall never forget him.
Sincerely, Charlie Hackett
Just a few words of appreciation for the life and teaching of Dr. LeBlanc. He was my geography professor as an undergraduate at UNH. Though my travels have taken me far and into different fields, when I opened the Alumni Monthly and saw his face as a victim of the New York terrorist attack, I was instantly back in his classroom. He had a passion for teaching that he communicated to his students - I learned so much that semester in 1969. I also went to church with him at St. George's Episcopal, however, he would not have remembered me. My heartfelt condolences to his family and as an educator too we sometimes wonder if and how we affect the lives of those we teach. Bob connected and these testimonies only add to what he did for so many students. May God be with you all in your grief.
Nancy (Towle) LaCombe
Las Vegas, Nevada
I met Bob as a Phi Mu Delta fraternity brother. I took this photo in January 1957 as a photography course portrait requirement. It was taken in Lee, NH at the home of then dean of students Everett B. Sackett.
William B. Rowley
I would like to begin by publicly thanking Eliot Shepard for this Memorial to Robert G. LeBlanc. In its elegant simplicity, it addresses so many of the needs for so many and will endure as a lasting testament to and celebration of Bob's life. My heart goes out to all that have known him, especially his family and its recent additions.
I was first introduced to Bob, while in highschool, in the context of my relationship with his daughter, Nissa. I was, perhaps, not the 'ideal' prospect for this role. Bob, however, never prejudged me. As i found getting to know him, over the years that were to follow, this was but a manifestation of one of the many virtues which have made him so cherished to those fortunate enough to know him.
Bob was always genuinely interested and politely inquisitive of my thoughts and views on all matters from issues of a personal nature to those of world scope. I remember fondly, many discussions over dinner - yet another example of his exquisite culinary skills - over all manner of things and often extending well into the night. His encouragement was gentle and his expectations high. Bob always expected nothing less than the best from all those around him and seemed to have a keen grasp of exactly what that was. His respect was such, that wishing not to disappoint him was all that was necessary to exceed ones own expectations, performing not for him in so much, as measuring oneself by his honest and accurate assessment.
In later years, I was fortunate enough to fit one of his classes into my curriculum at UNH. His passion, conviction and high expectations were again evident there. I knew him many years into his academic career, but I would expect he brought all his virtues to his role teaching and used his experience there to develop and polish them, leaving himself and his students as the beneficiaries.
Indeed, all the values and virtues that have made knowing him such an impact on the lives of those who did, has made him my model of a man to emulate. Likely unbeknownst to him, in all my efforts to improve myself, both within myself and in my relationships with others, I have sought to use him as my guide. If in the final analysis, I have achieved a tenth of what he has with a hundredth of the people he has, I will feel my life has been a successful one.
For all of these things and more, he has been and remains to be, my hero.
ORHS 1986, UNH 1993
Ft Collins Colorado
The many letters that I have read on this website are a testament to a wonderful man and only a small percentage of the lives that he has touched. As an undeclared student at UNH I was required to decide on a major before my semester abroad due to timing. I turned to Geography because of my love of travel. I ended up in Prof. LeBlanc's office in James Hall. He didn't lecture me on classes to take or fulfilling requirements. He seemed genuinely excited for my coming semester abroad and his advise to me was to travel as much as I could because those would be the best experiences of my life.
While studying in London I received a message that he had stopped by when I was out on the off chance that he would be able to catch me for lunch. I was very honored that he had remembered me as he was passing through and I regret to this day that we never met up. In those few short times I met with him I was impressed by his easy manner and quiet enthusiasm. My thoughts go out to his friends and family. As I fly to Taiwan in my next traveling adventure I will be thinking of him and his words of wisdom.
UNH Geography Major
My acquaintance with Prof. Leblanc was brief and yet so memorable that I feel compelled to share my reflections and send my condolences.
Robert Leblanc attended our Champlain Symposium this time last year. My field of study is Franco-Americans, and so when I read his name tag I immediately struck up a conversation with him about his ethnicity. He was proud of his roots. We discussed a course I was offering on Acadians and Cajuns the next semester, and we swapped stories about the best gumbo we'd ever eaten! We talked about our love of teaching. And finally we chatted about former prime minister Pierre Trudeau who had died just days before the symposium. He appreciated Trudeau's intellect, quick wit and integrity. And in the course of that conversation, I came to know Bob and to admire HIS intellect, quick wit and integrity.
I don't know why Robert Leblanc's name "jumped off" the newspaper page at me, but when it did the sense of loss was immediate and painful. I am grateful for his contributions to our field of Canadian Studies. However, most of all I am simply grateful for brief but delightful time spent with this extraordinary gentleman.
Center for the Study of Canada
State University of New York at Plattsburgh
I first met Bob LeBlanc in the mid-1970s when he came to do research on the Franco-Americans of New England at the Association Canado-Americaine in Manchester, where I was librarian. Immediately, when he realized that I knew more about the subject than merely being able to find the right books on the shelf for him, we struck up a conversation that continued on for many more visits.
In years to come, we were to meet again and again at various Franco-American functions. We read each other's writings, attended each other's lectures, and learned from each other. Bob was always knowledgeable, friendly, and a pleasure to be with. I also remember how his geography students at UNH admired and respected him, and looked to him for guidance, as I led them and Bob on one of my walking tours of Manchester's Franco-American west side in the mid-1980s.
Beginning in the 1990s, we served together as incorporators of the Centre Franco-Americain in Manchester, as well as on the Centre's library committee. Bob was always there with good advice, willing to share his knowledge and expertise.
Without a doubt, my most memorable experience with Bob took place in May 1995. I had returned to Paris with my former roommate from our junior year abroad, to help him lead a group of his art students from Michigan. As we entered the basement of the Sainte-Chapelle, I saw a group of American senior citizens. Lo and behold, there in the middle of that group was their guide, explaining some aspect of the chapel's architecture: Bob LeBlanc! We looked at each other in utter disbelief at this amazing coincidence, as if to say, "What are YOU doing here?" Thereafter, every time that Bob and I met, we always recalled our unusual encounter in Paris.
And then everything changed. On the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, when my students came in to class and told me what had just happened, we all went down to the campus coffee shop to watch the news as the events unfolded. Upon entering the coffee shop, the first image that we saw was that of an airplane striking one of the towers of the World Trade Center. In that split second, I experienced a mixture of emotions: shock, horror, disbelief, denial. It was like watching a scene from one of those terribly violent Hollywood adventure films that I would normally refuse to attend. But this time it was real, and it took me back to the shuttle explosion in 1986. And then I thought of Christa MacAuliffe, John and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, John Lennon, the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Flight 103 over Scotland, and so much more.
Each and every time that such a horrific event occurs, be it a natural disaster, an accident or an act of terrorism, I always hold my breath as the names of the victims are made public. Then, while feeling pain and sympathy for the victims and their families, I also breathe a sigh of relief for myself and those close to me, that no one I know was among the victims.
Not so this time. Little did I know, when I first saw that plane crash into the tower, that someone I knew, admired, and respected was aboard. I then thought of Bob and wondered what must have gone on in his mind in those last minutes of his life. I am horried at this thought. Now, tragedy has struck in a personal way and life will never be the same.
I knew Bob LeBlanc as a quiet, gentle man, a man of peace. In his memory, I hope and pray that our country will respond to this tragedy in such a way that will bring about no further bloodshed, but rather peace and understanding.
Robert B. Perreault
After graduating high school I went directly into the U.S. Marines. During my four years of duty - I learned how to hate and kill any enemy of the United States. At that time, most of our "known" enemies were either communist governments or rogue states that sponsored terrorism. Both of these entities brought forth an image of a certain type of person with certain physical characteristics. Therefore, we all had a permanent picture in our head of those who were a threat to our country. With those images branded into our mind's eye - we would sing highly derogatory songs about these various people as well as the various means in which we could destroy them. This practice was embedded in my head for years - until I attended my Cultural Geography course with Professor Le Blanc.
As I forced my thoughts to open and listen to Professor Le Blanc's lectures, an incredible thing started to happen. The hate that had become my entire "raison d'etre" for four years started to dissolve into curiosity of these people from these far-off lands. Questions started to formulate within the void that had been created from the loss of the hatred. Who are these people? What do they believe in? Why do they believe? Then eventually as some of my questions had received answers, the realization overwhelmed me - these people are not unlike myself. They are just in a different place, dealing with a different landscape, different language, different weather, different beliefs and a different means of survival - they are of different cultures. Not better or worse than I, just different.
Thanks to Professor Le Blanc, I learned the meaning of the word Cultural Relativity. I will never forget this word and the depth of its meaning. I look forward to the day that I can teach my children about Cultural Relativity. Thank you Professor Le Blanc.
Stephen R. Rock
Geography Major - Class of 1998
As I watched the evening news September 12, a familiar face looked back at me. I was stunned. I had not seen Professor LeBlanc for many years, but he made quite an impression on me during my years at UNH. I have forgotten so many of my professors over the years, but not him. I had my first class with him in the fall of 1973. I followed that up with five more classes over the next two years. I'm delighted to say I ended up with a minor in Geography to go with my major in English. While I was taking his "Historical Geography of the U.S." class in the fall of 1974, he told us of a trip being planned to the U.K. during January of 1975. First semester that year was ending before Christmas, and second semester was not starting until February, so the university decided to offer some special courses during what they called "January Term" -- all in the U.K. There were various courses being offered, and Professor LeBlanc would lead a three week "Geographical Expedition to the U.K." It was a singular opportunity, and I quickly signed on. His wife Andi also came on that trip, and it was nice to get to know him outside the classroom.
I took this trip very seriously, and I think he appreciated that. Keeping a diary was an important part of the course -- "cast yourself in the role of a reporter," he said. And I did exactly that. I recorded all my thoughts and impressions in multiple reporter's notebooks (from "The New Hampshire" -- where I was spending much of my time in those days). I was very pleased to read his comments on the finished product -- "This is precisely what I wanted!" and "I enjoyed reading this." He always challenged me as a student, and he had very high standards. But when you did well with him, it really meant something -- praise from him was praise indeed!
My work at "The New Hampshire" sometimes took a toll on me, and he was exceptionally understanding. A field trip in his "Physical Geography" class was scheduled the morning after a very, very late night at the paper. I overslept, and awoke to a friend (also in the class) pounding on my door. I told her to run and tell him I would be right there. I threw on some clothes and ran the length of the campus, only to find they had left without me. I was dejected. I felt I had let him down. I later learned that he left without me out of concern for my welfare -- he decided what I needed was rest!
I had to write a paper to make up for missing that field trip, and I wrote about the physical geography of Cape Cod. It afforded me a chance to share a quote with him from Thoreau's "Cape Cod" that he had never seen before. It said the Cape was "like an athlete protecting her Bay, -- boxing with northeast storms and, ever and anon, heaving up her Atlantic adversary from the lap of the earth, -- ready to thrust forward her other fist, which keeps guard the while upon her breast at Cape Ann."
His response to this quote was, "Terrific! Somehow I have missed this!" It thrilled me that while he had always been the one showing me new ways of seeing, perhaps I had been able to give just a tiny bit back. I'm so glad to have the chance to leave this message with some of my own thoughts and memories, but I'm also glad to have the chance to read so many wonderful messages written by those who loved and respected this exceptional man. In this way, I feel I have been able to get to know him better and have a fuller appreciation of his life. Thank you. My heart goes out to all his family and friends, as well as the entire UNH community that he was a part of for so much of his life. He was a lucky man -- doing work he loved, and enjoying the love and respect of family, students, and colleagues. We should all aspire to lead such lives.
UNH Class of 1976
Jamaica Plain, Mass.
The tributes to Bob on your web-site are powerful support for the impressions and memories of him that were solidly felt by those of us who know him less well. Bob and I met regularly at meetings of the Association for Canadian Studies in the US every time we had a conference. We usually shared a drink or two. I will always remember Bob as a thoroughly decent individual - commited to his profession, and to his students and colleagues. This is a tragic loss that will come back to all of us as we convene for our Canadian Studies activities for as long as we convene.
Peter Karl Kresl, Bucknell University
I was a Geography major in the early 70's and Bob was one of the most committed teachers I have ever met. His enthusiasm for his work was infectious and his polished style was so very rare. Even though I had not seen Bob for more than 20 years I cannot think of UNH without seeing him in front of his classes, or sitting in his office. We will miss you Bob.
John Wilson, CRNA, MSN
USAF (Ret.) UNH '78
I first met Bob shortly after my joining the faculty in 1974. We shared a common background in Geography and a love for that subject (albeit in different departments), and have been co-residents of James Hall all those twenty-seven years. It is now time to honor Bob as we so fondly remember him. And one of the best ways we can do that is to make sure Geography, a love of his life, remains a strong, healthy discipline and degree major on the UNH campus. We can be certain that this is what he would want.
John E. Carroll
Department of Natural Resources
While I didn't know Dr. LeBlanc well, nor have him as an instructor, I wish to express my condolences to his extended family, colleagues, and students.
We may have met on one of the many NCGE, AAG or IGU field trips through the years. I can't say for certain. I know that he loved to explore the world and share his knowledge with so many people.
Nevertheless, I concur with others' messages of love and respect for the loss of a colleague in the field of geographic education.
Our community lost Bob in New York City as well as Joe and Ann and their teachers and students in Washington DC. This is a sad time for us all.
My best wishes go out to Bob's family during this time of healing.
NGS SGI '91/GEON
It was with shock, disbelief, and terrible sorrow that I learned today that Professor Emeritus Robert LeBlanc was killed on Tuesday September 11 in one of the airplanes that hit the World Trade Center.
He was my teacher during my time at UNH (1966-1971) and serves as a role model for my own teaching today as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology here at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. He was the professor whose personal caring attitude so impressed me that I became a Geography major in 1967. He was so influential in my own development that to lose him, especially in this terrible catastrophic way, leaves a hole in the fabric of my being that will never really mend entirely.
I express my deep sorrow, and join with thousands of others whose lives he touched. I pray for the future and for the possibility that even out of such an horrendous series of losses that we can collectively rebuild our lives as well as helping others to do the same. I will continue to bring his inspiration to my own teaching and scholarship. My heart goes out especially to his loved ones, family members, and so forth.
David C. Hill, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
Bob and I loved to talk about our trips with Interhostel and the people we met. Bob always made time, made time to sit back and smile, invite me into his office, draw his eyebrows up into the thoughtful state of listening that he was so good at. He was truly a lover of people and I am a better person from knowing him.
I remember Bob as a man who gently and quietly touched all souls who knew him. I never had him in a class, nor did I get to have long conservations with him. I saw Bob every day for 10 years, unless he was traveling to some far off destination, even after he retired. Many daily visits to the departmental office brought Bob to the coffee pot. He was always the first person in to plug in the machine and get the coffee brewed in the morning, and always pouring that final cup out of the pot at the end of the day, even if it had been sitting there for hours.
Other times he would come in and bring pictures of places he had visited and I have never heard of. His face would light up and his eyes would sparkle as he explained each picture to us. So, in a small way, he was teaching me about geography.
Cooking was another thing that he was wonderful at. At times he would bring in new recipes he had made and wanted to share. I couldn't tell him that I had no clue how to cook these gourmet dishes. Every Christmas party he was instructed to bring in his specialty -- pate.
To Andrea and family, I send my deepest condolences to you. Bob was a wonderful man, and his spirit will live in James Hall forever. Whenever I make that first pot of coffee and hear the clink of the coffee pot during the work day, I will remember him fondly.
Bob, you are sorely missed.
UNH Earth Sciences Department
May we extend our love and prays to M. Robert G. LeBlanc and his beloved wife Andrea and family.
It was felt, when names were being released, there may be some Acadian names included, given the region. That is how I located M. Robert G. LeBlanc. I was able to speak with gracious wife, Andrea, in a generous moment of her time. I will never have the opportunity to meet him nor shake his hand. Will never share in a conversation over coffee or a glass of wine. Will never be given time to listen to his wisdom. Will never eat his cooking nor have the chance to smell the aroma of his roux while preparing his gumbo filé. I am able to meet him by sharing the humanities he left behind through his family, friends, colleagues, students and all others he has touched in life. M. Robert G. LeBlanc will always live through his FAMILY, his work and his ancestry of l'ACADIE.
I understand a groupe of Louisiane Cajuns are headed for New York City with the heart of feeding 1000++ servings of gumbo to the rescuers. That, I believe, would be Bob LeBlanc with a smile.
Joe Doucet dit Laverdure
I remember taking two classes with Professor LeBlanc in the early 1970's and being surprised, then fascinated, to realize, as others have also pointed out here, that Geography could be so much more than the study of maps and topographic features which had originally interested me. I suspect that my appreciation for Canada and things Canadian probably started with a Cultural Geography paper I wrote about the Quebecois in the village of St. Denis de Kamouraska on the south shore of the St. Lawrence downstream from Quebec City. I can recall clearly Professor LeBlanc's maps, but even more his smiling, outgoing, engaging presence filling the high-ceilinged classroom in the aging James Hall.
A decade later Kjell and then Nissa were, respectively, student and athlete of mine at the Oyster River Middle School in Durham; I hope I was able to return the favor in some small way. My thoughts and condolences go to them and the rest of the family.
John W. Parsons
I was a student of Prof. LeBlanc's my first semester at UNH in the fall of '79. I don't recall many specifics from the coursework itself (other than the source of the word 'Cajun') but do remember his love of the subject and his ability to convey this to his students. I remember being very tempted to switch majors. I was one of many who successfully escaped from World Trade Center 1 that awful morning. It was heartbreaking to learn that he was one of those lost.
My heart goes out to his family and the UNH community.
Gordon Fulda UNH '81
Robert LeBlanc and I worked at different universities, but we were colleagues and coworkers in the study of the Franco-American past. For twenty years we have seen each other at scholarly meetings of Canadian scholars. We regularly picked each other's brains. We read each other's scholarship. We cited each other's work in our own scholarship. We connected by email. I had my students read his work. He truly was a pioneer in the study of Franco-Americans. I learned so much from him.
One of the really nice things about our relationship is that we could share in our mutual study of Franco-Americans without being rivals. Academics do not always work that way. Rather, Bob and I looked forward to each other's work because we wanted to advance knowledge about Franco-Americans. In reading the letters from Bob's students on the UNH website, it was nice to learn that he treated students with the same care and concern that he treated me. I will miss him greatly. Maybe our only disagreement was when I triumphed a bit over the UMaine victory against UNH in the hockey championships.
C. Stewart Doty
Professor Emeritus of History, University of Maine
In the fall of 1987, I was a freshman at the University of New Hampshire. The very first class I had that morning -- and so the very first class I had as a college student -- was a geography class, taught by Robert LeBlanc. Before the start of every class, he would come into the room and write his outline for the lecture over one third of the chalkboard. I was always impressed with that because it showed he cared about what he taught and he cared that his students could follow it and would learn it. That really stands out in contrast to my other professors. I will still remember him for that reason alone, and not just for Sept. 11.
Ed Puffer, UNH Graduate 1992
As a graduate of the UNH Class of 1997 with a major in geography I will greatly miss Dr. Robert LeBlanc. Dr. LeBlanc was my teacher, advisor and friend for more than four years. I remember the first day my mother and I visited UNH and Dr. LeBlanc was the first man we met. If I ever needed help, Dr. LeBlanc's door was always open. He would always be there to chat about the world. I remember taking Geography of Western Europe and the Mediterranean and it was one of my favorite classes in the university. I gained so much knowledge of the world we live in by Dr. LeBlanc.
In my special education class at Revere High School (Revere, Massachusetts), everyday I incorporate geography into my curriculum. I have a globe that stands on my desk which represents the wonderful education I attained from Dr. LeBlanc. He was an expert geographer and if he was still alive today I am sure he could give an expert report of our current international situations. I will never forget Dr. LeBlanc. My sympathy goes out to the LeBlanc family, friends and the University of New Hampshire. God Bless.
Christopher J. DeAngelis
UNH Class of 1997
I am a human geographer. And I came to be this person because I met a man named Robert LeBlanc back in 1990. He was so excited about geography -- human geography. I was inspired. I couldn't wait until I could truly call myself a Geographer. Even the name sounded wonderful to me.
But looking back, I realize I already was one - a geographer. For, in fact, we all are. We can not help but hold an interest in the world of humans that exists around us.
At UNH, one of our first tasks as newly awakening geographers was to define "geography". It is more difficult than it sounds. In the end, one definition which found its way onto our Geography Club t-shirts was this: Geography is the study of the earth as the home of mankind.
As a human geographer, Professor LeBlanc aimed to learn more about human interactions. Why do people do the things they do? Put this question in a spatial context and you've got human geography. It is a subject he loved and one that drives so many of us in our daily lives.
At times like this, when tragedy strikes, many people may find themselves asking similar questions. Why is the world this way? In Bob's honor, I hope we might each attempt to find answers to these questions with open minds and tolerant hearts.
I thank you Professor LeBlanc for your inspiration and for setting an example of a true geographer and a truly good human being.
Tricia Saulnier Littlejohn
UNH Class of 1991
(Currently in Groton, NY)
I studied geography at UNH in the mid 1960s. Much of what I learned then has changed by now--political boundaries have been redrawn, the names of countries have changed, natural resources have been depleted in some places and newly discovered in others, and the climate itself may be changing. But in any case, these were not the important things I learned in Bob's classroom.
What I learned, and what has lasted all my life, is the love of learning itself. The example of Bob's wonderful curiosity--and the clear pleasure he took in satisfying it--made a student out of me, and I have remained a student from that time on. Now in my mid 50s, I just completed a master's degree and am currently enrolled in yet another evening course at the college where I work. In the time between my graduation from UNH and now, there have been few years in which I have not enrolled in a course somewhere, studying just for the pleasure that knowledge brings. And always in the back of my mind is Bob, his head cocked to one side, quietly asking questions, gently coaxing me forward on a path that has led to a rich and satisfying life. Bob gave me the world, and he is one of the great treasures of my life.
Drew Sanborn, '68
We have just heard about the tragic loss of Professor LeBlanc. Despite the time and distance, our memories of him are still clear and warm. We have lost a part of our past, our distant home at UNH.
We remember his ironic wit, boundless enthusiasm, and his ability to get others to really see what is around them, both near and far. This will stay with us.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this sad passing. And we are grateful for the opportunity to share in this remembrance with his extended family of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances that were all touched by his life.
Simon Griffiths (class of 1986, Geography major)
Lisa (Semerjian) Griffiths, (class of 1984)
His was a magical class; cloaked in the mysteries of faraway lands; fragranced by the scents of distant jungles; colored by the dimming light of a setting sun; blown by trade winds; shocked by fierce equatorial rains; tilled by ancient farmers on the alluvial dunes of a half-forgotten river. I remember it all so well. So very well indeed. He will be missed.
John E. Rogers, Jr.
Class of 1983
Los Angeles, California
Thank your for the opportunity to express my memories of geography professor emeritus Robert LeBlanc. I was wrestling with the decision about a major at UNH in the late 1960s. When I only earned a C in his introductory geography class (Drs. LeBlanc and Wallace were tough graders!), I sought his advice about a major. He suggested that I major in geology, and NOT geography! He said that I would have better career opportunities in geology, but I certainly should take some additional geography courses when they fit my schedule. Given the decline in geography programs over the past three decades, his was sage advice indeed. We did not meet again until 1995 in James Hall, when I was a visiting scholar in the Earth Sciences Dept. When I mentioned to him the career advice he offered me 25+ years before, he just smiled (with that twinkle in his eye) and asked if my decision had agreed with me. Thanks, Bob.
P. Thompson Davis, UNH '72
Professor of Glacial Geology and Climatology
Although I was a Mechanical Engineering student at UNH in the early 90's, I had an interest in Geography since I was a kid. Professor LeBlanc was one of the most gentile, easy to talk to professors I had the pleasure of meeting during my time at UNH. Always smiling, and enthusiastic about his craft. He will surely be missed.
Mike Dumont '93
I did not know his name - nor he mine - but he never failed to exchange greetings and pleasantries whenever our paths crossed on campus or in Durham. I will miss his friendly smile.
I was really moved reading each of the remembrances posted about Bob LeBlanc. As co-owner of The Bagelry, where Bob was undoubtedly one of our most regular patrons, I know I can speak for myself and my staff in expressing our collective deep and heartfelt loss. When I first heard the news, and relayed the information to various Bagelry staff, name recognition was not immediate to everyone. When I referred to him by his usual lunchtime order and his usual lunchtime table location, each and every employee responded immediately.
At first, I thought it was a sad reflection that we don't often know the people we interact with each day. But slowly I realized that the bits and pieces that we do know about people enrich us in other ways, and make up the full tapestry of our lives. We will all miss the ever-smiling, quiet customer, who ordered a salad with bagel chips almost every weekday. And now we will always remember his name.
Bob touched a generation of students. In 1993, Bob graciously volunteered to share his professional expertise with me to help the students visualize the spread of HIV and AIDS across the planet. For the students in this class, it was a graphic way to make the subject real. Bob personalized the statistics. Always gracious, with that gleam in his eye, he will be missed. I join his family and friends, colleagues and associates in sharing this memory and our sorrow.
Roger A. Ritvo
School of Health and Human Services
Bob Le Blanc will be missed by many, many people, but among them are all the Canadian colleagues with whom he shared friendship, lively research and a deep and passionate commitment to teaching about Canada.
Bob was a long-standing member of the Canadian Association of Geographers, and his was a familiar face at meetings of the CAG over the years. Many of us saw him in Montreal just this past June.Over the past several days, I have received messages conveying memories of Bob's engagement with Canadian geography. They speak in particular of how much he gave to teaching, and of what fun he was to have on a field trip. He had the gift of bringing alive our sense of the landscape around us, and his commitment to others came across in all of his scholarly endeavours.
Although Bob spent his entire career in the United States, we certainly thought of him as a Canadian.
President, Canadian Association of Geographers
I too was Geography major in the mid 80's. Being an older student, I had more in common with the professors than the students. Dr Leblanc was not only a brilliant professor, but also a friend. We had some good laughs at my wedding, and told some good stories in his office. Doc, thanks for your encouragement, I will miss you. All who you touched will miss you.
Class of 1986
My name is Stan Buslovich and I graduated with the Class of '69.
The tragic events of the past week became especially personal for me Thursday night when NECN showed the names of the people who had been on the two flights originating from Logan. When I saw Robert LeBlanc, 70, of Lee, NH, my first thought was: coincidence. But I also know how close Lee, NH is to Durham. Since I was already on the Internet, I checked the UNH website where my worst fears were confirmed. I can't tell you how saddened I am and my heart goes out to all those close to him.
Mr. LeBlanc, which is how we addressed him at the time, was one of my favorite profs. I will never forget the lilt of his voice or that sparkle in his eye--which told you the punch line is coming ;-). His presence helped me decide to switch my major to Geography which I've always thought was one of the better decisions of my life.
Oddly enough I distinctly remember the first minutes of the very first class I ever took with him. It was thirty-five years ago last winter and the start of the second semester of my freshman year. I needed a class to replace ROTC which was only offered in the first semester. It needed to be a course which the ROTC instructors approved. A good friend of mine decided on a Geography course which they accepted, so I decided it would work for me too.
The first day of class Mr. LeBlanc begins by advising us that in his opinion anyone who is not a Junior or at least a second semester Sophomore should not be taking this course. That was a bit of a surprise and two students went up to talk to him. The first one left and the other one sat back down. Then he started the lecture: "We will start this semester with Sub-Saharan Africa, Africa south of the Sahara. Also known as Black Africa." Then looking at us intently, that sparkle in his eye: "And that's not because of the color of the soil!" I liked his humor and the way he lectured so I decided to "stick it out."
Those were wonderful years for me and his enthusiasm, humor, and joie de vivre were an important part of it.
I graduated from UNH in 1964 and majored in US History. I took several credits of Geography both in 1963 and 4. I then married a Geography major who had Bob as an advisor.
Over the years I saw Bob several times a year in Durham, mostly at the Bagelry. The last time I saw him, this spring, I was holding a pro-choice poster and marching at a NOW rally in Durham. I thought he was really embarrassed to know someone being that rowdy and he acknowledged me with a sideways grin.
Every time I don't have to look up a major landmark or river, every time I go to the Bagelry, every time I see that horrible film footage, every time I nag my husband to wear Birkenstocks with socks, I'll think of Bob.
Caroline L. French, UNH 1964
Bob and Andi at his 50th birthday party, 1980
I was a fraternity brother of Bob's in Nu Beta Chapter of Phi Mu Delta in the 1950's. I remember some great times and brotherhood with Bob. I returned to the UNH campus in 1980 as Commander of the AFROTC Unit and renewed my asquaintance with Bob. When I retired from the Air Force in 1988 and returned to the area, we again made our awquaintance. The last time I saw Bob was on a C&J bus on our way to Logan. He was on his way to Sri Lanka and we were on our way to Rome to begin an Eastern Med cruise. I share his love of georgaphy and have enjoyed extensive travel. Our prayers are with his family and we will miss a truly great American.
UNH, Nu Beta, Phi Mu Delta 1958
I graduated from UNH's Nursing Dept. in 1987. I had the pleasure of being in Prof. LeBlanc's geography class as a student in 1984 or 85. As other's have written - I was naive to think this would be a "map memorizing" class - but I was soon impressed by the professor's passion for his subject matter. He was an articulate speaker and the knowledge I gained from his course certainly expanded my understanding of and respect for different cultures. This understanding influenced how I provide nursing care and how I communicate with others even today. For this I thank Professor LeBlanc and my thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and colleagues.
Nancy (Harvey) DeSotto RN, MSN
UNH '87, M'93
I took a class in Geography in 1981 taught by Prof. LeBlanc. The class continues to be so fresh in my memory and was an incredible learning experience for me.
Reflecting back two decades, I had a wonderfully positive experience when attending UNH. Professor's amazing skills and expressions of curiosity and excitement for the exploration of how people are influenced culturally by their surrounding environment is one of those vivid highlights, and it continues to fascinate me. Professor, thank you for all that you have done for me.
Gregory B. Jansen
Class of 1981
I am the other Professor LeBlanc from UNH. Like Bob, I too hailed from Nashua, NH. And like Bob, I too have served as a study abroad advisor at the Center for International Education in Hood House. While I am here in Budapest, Hungary, currently serving as the faculty director for a UNH study abroad program and teaching at the Budapest University of Economic Sciences and Public Administration, my son in Austin, TX, has received over twenty phone calls from his friends conveying their sympathies over the death of Professor R. LeBlanc from the University of New Hampshire. I take no comfort in telling my son that it was Robert LeBlanc -- not Ronald leBlanc -- who was aboard that ill-fated flight out of Logan Airport.
Bob LeBlanc was one of the first people I met on campus when I arrived at UNH in 1988: he was already receiving some of my mail by mistake, just as I was receiving some of his. So he came by Murkland Hall to introduce himself . . . and to bring me some of my mail! We found it uncanny that we were both born in Nashua, and although we are not related (as far as we know), our experiences growing up as Franco-American kids in Nashua were startlingly similar. I think that created a bond between us from the very beginning of our acquaintance. I attended some of the New Hampshire Humanities Council presentations that Bob used to give at libraries across the state about the French-Canadian migration to New England. I remember the genuine passion that Bob invested into that topic and the warm reception he received from his appreciative audiences.
I wouldn't say that Bob and I were close friends, but we were certainly good friends and colleagues at UNH. We would often run into each other on campus -- be it at Hood House when we were doing study abroad advising or at the Alumni Center when one of CIE's International Seminars were being held -- and invariably chat for a while about the things Bob and I considered important: foreign travel, study abroad, cultural geography, the Franco-American experience, even the annual LeBlanc Family Reunion that he attended a couple of years ago down in Louisiana.
I was deeply saddened to hear of Bob's tragic fate. I know that I will truly miss our brief but regular chats on campus. I know that I will miss our humorous exchanges on those occasions ("Bonjour, Professeur LeBlanc!"). I am saddened to learn that I am now the only Professor LeBlanc at UNH. As I once told Bob (in all seriousness), it is nice to be mistaken from time to time for such a nice guy and terrific human being. We all will miss him a lot.
Professor of Russian and Humanities
The horrendous tragedy of Sept. 11 really hit home when I learned that Bob was among the thousands of victims. Until then I had felt shock, anger, dismay, sadness, fear. Now I wept. The acquaintance we'd struck up in the mid-70s had become a friendship. Not that we hung out together, but each of us felt he could call the other. The phone would ring and there was Bob looking for a reference or someone who knew about whatever he happened to be working on. I too could count on him when writing a grant or getting my historical or geographic facts straight. Bob was on the original team that kicked off the N.H. Humanities Council "Programming Service." His specialties: The Acadian deportation, French-Canadian migration to the U.S., and Franco-American communities. He was instrumental in organizing what may have been the only meeting ever of the Franco-American Historical Society at UNH. At the instigation of a recent UNH president, Bob set up and ran the Franco-American Club on campus. His was a quiet, never overbearing influence. His zest for life was infectious. Some say that Bob LeBlanc loved teaching; others, that say his passion was research. I say this geographer from Nashua was passionate about travel. Whether it was planning a trip to the other side of the globe or talking about what he'd experienced in Canada, his enthusiasm was infectious. Because we often pass by the LeBlanc home in Lee, Jane and I watched the recent progress in the preparation of Bob's expanded kitchen where he planned to do his stuff for Andrea and family. You'll be sorely missed, mon ami.
Julien Olivier, Barrington
As so many, I majored in Geography graduating in 1976. It was a class of about 8. Bob was my advisor and professor. I also worked for him for a couple of semesters correcting papers. He was a wonderful person and educator who challenged you while encouraging your interest in the subject matter. He worked with me on my senior thesis. In Bob's honor, I hiked Mt. Liberty (that being the most appropriate) today with a few others, hoisted a large American flag, and said a few prayers of remembrance and shed a few tears. I carried a sign remembering Bob on my backpack surrounded by an American flag. To his family, my deepest sympathies. He will be sorely missed.
Gail Carbonneau Linehan
Class of 1976
Bob and I share an Acadian heritage and that's where it started, some years ago when I served as President of the American-Canadian Genealogical Society which is based in Manchester Bob was invited to be a speaker on subject very near to his heart, the migration of the Acadians from what is now Nova Scotia after their deportation by the British authorities.
He very meticulously studied all the documentation that was available to him to reconstruct where and when our Acadian ancestors were forcibly sent in a very tragic Diaspora and his efforts and expertise in this area brought him recognition when his concept was adopted by the Canadian Parks Service published it's conceptual map entitled "Acadie The Odyssey of a People".
Through the years our paths crossed in many places, at conferences and seminars on things Acadian, in Canada and in the United States and we shared information and good times and I am a better person for having known him.
Now the Acadian sky is dimmer by one star due to his tragic passing, but I am happy that his star glowed long enough for him to enlighten all of us on a part of our history that had been shrouded in mystery.
Bob may be gone but he will not be forgotten. In 2004 we Acadians will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the founding of Acadia and God willing I will be in Nova Scotia for the 3rd World Acadian Congress , I will stand on the dykes at Grand Pre built by our ancestors proudly a wearing gold star with his name affixed to it and then I will gently place it in the chapel of remembrance for all to see.
A la prochaine mon amis, Vive l'Acadie,
Richard L. Fortin
The obituary from Foster's Daily Democrat in Dover, NH.
I too had Professor LeBlanc in school and as a neighbor. Like others have said, I have forgotten most of my professors since I graduated, but not Professor LeBlanc. He would accept nothing but my best, making me work harder than almost any other teacher I've ever had. Although I graduated from UNH in 1989, I have always seen Professor LeBlanc frequently: in the grocery store, going through Durham, driving on Route 4. He just seems such a fixture in Lee and Durham, I can't believe he's gone. My prayers are with the LeBlanc and Youngren family, as are the prayers of the world. He is not gone in spirit.
UNH class of '89 and lifetime Lee resident
I was just informed about his death this morning. He was a great teacher- his class was one of the few I did for the entire semester. This was about 8 years ago, and since then I have had a brain injury, so I don't remember much about UNH; but I DO remember him (I believe he was my faculty advisor, if they even have those), and how he was so proud of his Acadian heritage- I'm of Acadian heritage too. He will be missed!
Brie L. Bourn
When I was told by a friend that a UNH Geography professor named Robert LeBlanc was aboard one of the planes sadness filled my heart. I majored in Geography and Professor LeBlanc made me feel, just like others have written, good about my decision. I remember talking to him in his office and thinking to myself what an interesting man he was and what a positive outlook of life he had. He taught me to appreciate the world around me, encouraged me to travel and most importantly to live life to the fullest, for that I will always be grateful. My prayers are with his family and friends as we mourn the loss of a great man.
Little did I know that after I spent a semester taking a class taught by Professor LeBlanc, I would be in his office asking him to be my advisor as I decided to minor in Geography. More of a surprise was that I was teaching it just five years later at Oyster River High School in Durham. It was his enthusiasm for teaching geography that led me to education as a career.
When I first started at Oyster River, Prof. LeBlanc read in the local paper that I was hired to teach geography and world cultures. True to his nature, he delivered to me there, a large box of materials to use in my classes. Books, slides and overheads, they have all been useful in my classes.
When I had my first, meaningful conversation with him, he asked me about my family, where I was from, why I was interested in geography. After about forty-five minutes, I mentioned it. My grandfather was a veterinarian in Concord, NH. That was the connection he was looking for. The connection he knew was out there. He then told me that his wife, Andrea, worked for my grandfather early in her career.
It is truly a small world. My first year of teaching I had his grandson in my class. I just saw him at Oyster River High School several months ago as his grandson received his diploma. His smile was from ear to ear. It is that smile that I will remember the most about him. That was the last time I saw him and now I am grateful that I was touched by him.
University of New Hampshire
Class of 1993
A picture from this year. This picture is a link to high-resolution tiff which may be republished. Photo taken by Andrea LeBlanc.
My name is Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa and I am a professor at the University of Alberta, Canada. I had the great pleasure of meeting Robert during my M.Sc. and Ph.D. studies at UNH. He was a great human being and a great friend. During those days that I feel alone because of being away from my family and friend in Costa Rica, a good cup of coffee and a conversation with Robert help my spirit. In fact, one of the nicest memories from UNH was Robert's conversations over coffee and sometimes our walk to downtown to talk about Costa Rica, it birds and environment and of course have something to drink.
UNH has lost not only a good professor but also an exceptional human being. Our heart goes to his family during this time.
Dr. Arturo Sanchez-Azofeifa
With John, Paul, Nissa, Carolyn and Kjell in the 1970s
I am 1994 graduate of UNH. Geography was my major and Professor LeBlanc was my advisor. I also had many classes that he taught. I remember the trip to Canada he brought us on for our Canadian Geography class. He also made me feel good about majoring in Geography, despite the small amount of students majoring in Geography. Today, I still get to work in the mapping field. Which is fantastic to me because mapping is more of a hobby to me than work. I owe a thanks to Professor LeBlanc for convincing me to stay on as a Geography major.
He was an extremely kind and helpful man. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and colleagues.
Dennis Pelletier, Geography Class of 1994.
My name is David Andrews, and I took an introductory geography course with Professor LeBlanc at UNH in the early 1980s. I remember that in the early weeks of the course, I had to go visit him after one of his lectures because I was having a hard time understanding why any given "geography" lecture he delivered had so much content related to culture and politics. I was a naive freshman and said at one point something like, "I thought this class would be just about memorizing maps and information related to mountain ranges, rivers, cities, and the like. Why do you keep talking about all these things that are about culture and politics?" He took the time to explain to me how geography and culture and politics are intimately linked, and that it wasn't enough for his students to _memorize_ the basics of where a river or mountain range was, or what the soil was like in a certain region. He wanted his students to go beyond that information _to learn_, to put that information into context and _apply_ it to other situations: how did the mountain range's location influence history, how the presence of a river near a certain city influenced its culture and economy, and how the makeup of soil in a certain region could determine the nature of its society. After that post-lecture discussion, the proverbial lightbulb came on for me, and I learned a tremendous amount in his class.
At one point in the course, Professor LeBlanc discussed the geography of New England, how the rivers provided the power that drove the engines of textile mills including in my own home town in New Hampshire, and how that influenced the makeup of the region for decades. After the semester was over, as I drove around the town in which I had lived for more than 10 years, I saw it in a totally different light. I learned more about my home and its history in one class with Professor LeBlanc than in a decade of actually living there! To this day, when I take friends who are visiting for sightseeing drives through the area in which I live in southern NH, I am able to tell them things about this region that are taken straight out from what I learned in his class.
I was not an exceptional student ... I was one of those students who studied hard for a course if it interested me, and if it didn't, I was lucky to show up at all, especially if it was one of those infamously cold, windy, winter days of Durham where an extra cup of coffee in Stillings dining hall or the MUB seemed far more appealing than walking for 10 or 15 minutes through bad weather just to sit somewhere in a classroom. I think it's a testament to Professor LeBlanc's teaching ability that, unless I was sick, I don't think I missed a single one of his lectures after our brief little discussion after his class that day.
And if any current students of UNH are reading this, if you are struggling in a class and need help, go to your professor and TALK to him or her. It is what they are there for, and if you are lucky enough to have a teacher as good as Professor LeBlanc, you might just learn that one tip, or gain that one piece of insight, that will make it much easier to succeed and to learn information that you will remember for the rest of your life.
David L. Andrews, publisher/editorial director, Supply Chain Systems Magazine
I am so shocked to learn of Professor LeBlanc's death. I was a student in several of his classes in the mid 1980s. His teaching was the reason I minored in geography, and he truly changed the way I looked at the world. There are two things that resonate most when I think back to his classes. His smile and his manner of lecturing. So often I can still here his words in my head. I, too, remember his suggestion to "look up, look up." I especially think of him when I travel through New England and eastern Canada, as he taught me to "see" these places with the history that created them.
What a kind, generous, intelligent man. What a sad way to end a fruitful life. How wonderful to see the pictures of him with his grandchild. How sad for that grandchild to have lost the opportunity to learn from a man who taught so many. That such a humanist could die at the hands of a terrorist is unfathomable.
Thank you, Professor Leblanc, for all of your patient teaching. For so many of us, it has not ended. Your passion for culture, geography, place, family, and life in general was, and will always continue to be, infectious!
Lisa (Smith) Aciukewicz
I was a Geography student at UNH during the 1980s. We were a tight knit group, and since we had only four professors we knew each of them pretty well. I only took one class with Professor LeBlanc, Human Geography (the year I took the class it had been renamed from Cultural Geography).
I remember sitting in James Hall, in one of the two first floor classrooms, learning about Spatial Interactance and the like. I asked a naive question about birth rates in third-world countries: why were they so high, given the scarcity of resources and the dismal outlook for their inhabitants. He launched into a discussion about the necessity for large families for agricultural reasons, the unfortunate circumstance that a family could expect some offspring to die before their 5th birthday, and the like. And then he said (I can still hear him!) - "And dare I raise the spectre of differential intelligence...."
He took us on field trips to Manchester NH and Worcester MA. They were fascinating. I started to look at cities very differently after those experiences. He also introduced me to the study of ethnicity in cities, by having us map populations of various ethnic groups in some of the old NH mill cities using ancient, dusty city directories.
My experiences in the Geography department, and by extension with Dr. LeBlanc, helped shape my life. I love to travel, and will do so at the drop of a hat. My awareness of what is around me, and why it is there, why people feel the way they do about others in a faraway place, was nurtured at UNH, and I am ever grateful for that.
Professor LeBlanc died in a terrible way, though doing what he loved to do. My prayers and condolences are with his wife and children, and with his colleagues at UNH.
Bob and I came to the university the same year - 1963. We never became close but each brief contact I had with him enriched my life. We shared a sense of irony and a respect for teaching. His smile, his wit, comradeship, even if fragmentary and distant, enriched my life. He will be missed more than his modesty would ever have allowed him to know.
Through the immense grief and disbelief, it is difficult to start to share the story a truly wonderful, inspiring man who touched many lives. In Fall of 1994, during my Sophomore year at UNH, I had the opportunity to learn from Professor LeBlanc in his course, "Human Geography." This was a cultural Geography course and all that he taught, it was noticeably his professional passion. Beyond his love for geography, he had a sincere caring attitude towards his students. Because of his open, caring nature, I would visit him not only to strengthen my understanding of the subject, but also to talk about my life and ambitions beyond college. Being a Natural Resources Department undergrad and graduate student meant spending much time in James Hall, just upon entering then building, I would always look to the right first, to see if Professor LeBlanc was in his office, as he usually was, and looked forward to his wave with a gentle, broad smile. Over my six years on campus, visiting with him was always special. Although this was never shared with him, I often thought of him as a "father away from home" because Robert LeBlanc was a warm, friendly, caring, compassionate man and an enthusiastic zest for life.
As manager of Durham Book Exchange downtown, I had the pleasure of knowing Bob LeBlanc for many years. His daily lunchtime walk would take him by the store and he would regularly stop in to chat or perhaps order a guide book to the next place he was planning to visit (usually one I'd never heard of!).
When my husband and I were planning our first-ever trip to the UK several years ago, Bob gave me all of the tourist info he had accumulated and provided great tips for places to stay. I've since found out that this was typical behavior for this friendly, giving man.
I will miss his smiling face and our regular conversations. My thoughts go out to Andrea and the family.
Durham Book Exchange
To the LeBlanc family and the UNH Community,
It is with deep sadness that the National Fraternity of Phi Mu Delta learned of the tragic death of our Brother, Robert LeBlanc.
Professor LeBlanc joined the Nu Beta Chapter of Phi Mu Delta during his undergraduate days at UNH and throughout his life was a living embodiment of our ideals of Brotherhood, Democracy and Service. We will miss him. Please know that the thoughts and prayers of the entire national fraternity are with the the LeBlanc family and the UNH community.
Assistant Director of Housing
National President, Phi Mu Delta
Bob with his grandson Kai Youngren earlier this year.
I was fortunate enough to have Dr. LeBlanc as a teacher in Non-Western Geography, in 1992, my sophomore year at UNH. He remembered me because out of 75 students, he told me at the end of the semester, I was one of only three A's! I admired him then, for his ability to lecture (I absolutely loved his way of speaking), and for his challenging and thoughtful essay questions on exams. It was one of my favorite classes, and I actually considered changing my Animal Science major to Geography because of him. His enthusiasm was infectious. I continued to keep in touch with him as I went on to pursue an M.Ed. here at UNH. I often used to see him walking around campus, and he would always stop to ask me how I was doing. After that degree, I spoke with him about where I should go for my PhD. I knew that I wanted to be a college professor, like him. He used to joke with me about my eventual decision to remain at UNH for a third time, and pursue a PhD in Natural Resources. I was around James Hall all the time, as I still am, and I talked to him frequently. I always enjoyed seeing him; his smile and his friendly words simply lit up my day. When he retired last year, and yet was still so often walking around campus, I teased him and asked him why he wouldn't just "go home!" He loved being at UNH, and he loved teaching. It was obvious to me from the first day I knew him. Last week I saw him as I was walking on campus with a friend of mine. I pointed to Dr. LeBlanc and said, "That's the kind of professor I want to be." Dr. LeBlanc was an inspiration to me, both in his teaching and in his way of being. I will miss him a great deal. My heart goes out to his family and friends--I know we will all miss him.
My name is Christina (Winsor) DiMicelli and I graduated from UNH in 1987. In the 14 years since graduation, I have forgotten many, if not most, of my college professors. Professor LeBlanc, however, was not one of those forgotten. Professor LeBlanc was a teacher I always remembered.
In his Geography of Canada class there were about nine of us, I believe. Seven boys and two girls. I took the class to fulfill a general education requirement and the trip to Canada sounded interesting - plus, my grandmother came from Canada and I wanted to learn more of the country.
Professor LeBlanc was a brave man as he took our class to Canada for a week or more. We traveled to Quebec City, Montreal, toured a paper mill, and more. It was, easily, one of the first experiences I had to travel far from home and experience other ways of life. It was fascinating, one of my favorite classes of my UNH career.
We took notes throughout the entire journey as Professor LeBlanc wouldn't let us miss the chance to learn about all he was telling us as we followed him for miles. He could walk and walk! Such vivid memories I have of this trip, 14 years later!
One thing in particular. whenever we were walking through a city, Professor LeBlanc would stop us and instruct us to, "Look up! Look up! You miss so much in a city if you do not look up!" Do you know, I have since traveled the world - Japan, Korea, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, England, Holland, Sweden and more. and I always remember his words. and I always look up. When I do, I think of Professor LeBlanc and his love for places and people. He taught me to look around and take in all that is there, it's just waiting for me to absorb it and learn from it.
My sons are ages six and three. I always tell them to "look up". Professor LeBlanc's words continue on for another generation.
Please accept my deepest condolences on the death of Professor LeBlanc. I too have lost family members in the past years and know there are no magic words to ease your pain, however, know that Professor LeBlanc touched many lives in an extremely positive way and continues to do so. just watch my boys as they "look up".
As an interesting aside - the man I married majored in Geography.
God bless you.
Christina (Winsor) DiMicelli - Hampstead, NH
I took Professor LeBlanc's geography class the first semester of my freshman year at UNH. He was always one of my favorite professors, and one of my best. I spent a lot of time with him during his office hours, discussing not only geography (a shared passion), but also other topics of life. He not only made my studies more interesting, he made that challenging first semester away at school less of a lonely ordeal.
My heart goes out to his family, friends and colleagues. Such a good man, such a horrible tragedy.
Laurie (King) Fahrner
I had the honor of working with Bob in his capacity as Geography Department's Professor Emeritus since 1998 as the Geography Department's Secretary. He knew I was a stamp collector and he always sent me a postcard from his travels with funny written comments. I will miss him deeply. He was in his office earlier than I got into mine which was at 7:45 a.m. He would come into my office to get his daily fix of coffee and always asked how I was. He would tell me about his next adventure to a far off country, then would leave me his itinerary. This is one time he didn't.
His spirit will always be here in the Geography Dept. like the fragrance of a flower.
He was a man who loved travel, people, cultures, and just had a zest for life.
I worked as the Secretary in the Geography Department from 1989 - 1998. Bob was quiet, calm, thoughtful, caring and had a great smile. Many times when I would go into his office, he would be leaning back in his chair, with his sandal-clad feet up on his desk. I'm sure he did his best thinking & planning that way. In between planning and teaching classes and, for some years, performing Chairman duties, he would be planning his next trip. He always sent me a postcard from his travels, even after I stopped working there.
Bob's hair sometimes got quite thick and long and he would put both hands over it and push it back. When he'd come in it wearing his hair shorter, and I would comment on it, he would smile and say that Andi had cut it for him. Andi always cut his hair for him. And, he always smiled when he talked about Andi. He had lots of pictures of Andi and the children under the glass mat that covered his desk.
He loved to cook, and I'll never forget the delicious pate he would make for the annual Earth Science/Geography Christmas party.
Bob walked downtown every day during lunch. If I walked during lunch, we would often pass each other, and wave and smile. Nothing to chat about since we saw each other at work. After I moved to a different department, we would occassionally see each other on one of the walkways on campus. We'd chat and catch up. He telling me of the wonderful trips he had been on, or was going on since we'd last seen each other. He always asked about my family. Today, I walked at lunchtime. I hoped that I would see him walking, so that the news of him being gone would not be true. I did not see him, and I wept. But, I know that from now on, when I walk around campus, I will smile, remembering the times I did see him on those walkways, during the 12 years I knew him.
Rosemary Raynes/UNH Physics
and of Madbury, NH
I knew Bob as the father of my friends Kjell and Nissa Youngren, and as a neighbor on Snell Road. He was a man who loved travel and home equally with great passion. The fact that this has turned out to be much the same way I try to approach things is probably not entirely a coincidence.
During a difficult time for my family many years ago, Bob, Andi, Kjell, Paul, John, Carolyn and Nissa made no bones about making theirs available to me. The meals they shared with me were a cornerstone in rebuilding my own faith in the stability and love of a family, and were more help to me than I can say. But of course such high-minded thoughts had to compete with the meals themselves. I remember Kjell saying more than once "You better come over tonight. Dad made gumbo."
I remember asking Bob many questions, but remember more the vibrance and thoughtfulness of his answers. I still know that he bought his Omega watch in Greenland, the historical origin of the Indian population of Fiji, and how best to spend two weeks in Peru. And I remember how proud I felt when he for the first time asked about my experiences on a trip in preparation for one that he and Andi were to take.
For many years I have gathered with Bob's family and our collective friends on Christmas Eve. We eat his and Andi's delicious food, enjoy each other's increasingly rare company, and crack wise around the table while Andi rolls her eyes. I mark time in my life by these nights. I hope that this tradition can continue. I think Bob would prefer it did.
UNH's statement about Bob.