Obituary: Robert G. Collmer

Robert G. Collmer of Waco, a missionary kid who became distinguished professor emeritus of English at Baylor University, died Nov. 21. He was 91.

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Robert G. Collmer of Waco, a missionary kid who became distinguished professor emeritus of English at Baylor University, died Nov. 21. He was 91. Collmer was born Nov. 28, 1926, in Guatemala City to G. Russell and Constance C. Collmer. At his birth, a physician warned his parents he never would be physically or mentally strong, but he grew to be a 6-foot-2-inch tall accomplished academician. He spent his early childhood in Zacapa, Guatemala, where his parents were Baptist missionaries, and for decades continued to visit and support the churches his parents established in central Guatemala. His family moved to Philadelphia when he was young before relocating to Laredo, where he graduated from Martin High School. In 1945, he was inducted into the U.S. Army while a student at Howard Payne College. After his discharge, he enrolled at Baylor University in 1947, where he met Linnie Maffett Burney. They married on her 21st birthday. They were married 31 years, before she died in 1979. In her memory, he gave the lead gift that led to establishing the Linnie B. Collmer Seminar Room at Baylor and set up an endowment for its furnishing. Collmer earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from Baylor and his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. He served as professor, chair of the English department and director of graduate studies at Texas Tech University before joining the Baylor faculty in 1973. During his 24 years at Baylor, he served six years as head of the English department and 13 years as dean of the Baylor Graduate School. While he was dean, he  continued to teach in the English department, where he met nurse and U.S. Army veteran Alys Edney, who he accompanied to a ballet in Dallas. They married in 1981. Collmer wrote hundreds of scholarly articles across many academic disciplines and edited multiple volumes. At Baylor, he helped establish the House of Poetry, the Beall Poetry Festival and the Beall-Russell Lecture Series. He taught a semester at the University of Jordan in Amman. Collmer, an ordained minister, taught a men’s Sunday school class at Columbus Avenue Baptist Church in Waco for many years. He is survived by his wife, Alys Edney Collmer; daughter Carol C. and husband, Donald W. McLaren, of Pinon, Ariz.; son Mark W. Collmer of Houston; and four grandchildren. His son established the Robert G. Collmer Family Archival Research Endowed Fund at Baylor in his memory.

 

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