Professor Emerita and Winthrop Sports Ambassador Bert Bobb Passes Away

July 05, 2023

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Newberry, South Carolina, native had been an active member of the Winthrop community since she came to the university as a student in 1959. 
  • A local memorial service is planned at Park Pointe Village Community Room, 3025 Chesbroough Blvd., Rock Hill, on Sunday, July 9 at 2:30 p.m.

     

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – Maeberta “Bert” Bobb ’63, a trailblazer for women’s intercollegiate athletics who served in multiple leadership, teaching and coaching capacities for Winthrop University, passed away on July 3.

The Newberry, South Carolina, native had been an active member of the Winthrop community since she came to the university as a student in 1959. 

Graveside funeral services will be conducted by Pastor Leon Rawl at 11 a.m. on Thursday, July 6, at Newberry Memorial Gardens, 15127 CR Koon Highway, Newberry, South Carolina.

A local memorial service will be held at Park Pointe Village Community Room, 3025 Chesbrough Blvd, Rock Hill, on Sunday, July 9 at 2:30 p.m. 

A life-long advocate for women’s athletics, Bobb first made her mark at Winthrop as she and others helped colleges with the transition from women’s recreational club sports in the 1960s to intercollegiate teams in the 1970s. Bobb and a Winthrop faculty colleague, Mickey Taylor, helped found the South Carolina Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (SCAIAW) in 1971, said Gina White ’83, director of the Louise Pettus Archives & Special Collections at Winthrop. Bobb served as SCAIAW president from 1971-75.

For decades and even after her retirement from the university as professor emerita of physical and special education in 2001, Bobb was frequently spotted in the Winthrop Coliseum stands at men’s and women’s basketball games, wearing Winthrop apparel.

President Edward Serna ’02 said he was impressed by Bobb’s long-time association with Winthrop.

“Bert Bobb poured decades of selfless dedication, time, energy, talent and service into her alma mater. She always answered the call when she was most needed. Her leadership and expertise in the field of physical education were recognized and awarded at all levels,” Serna said. “She was a leading proponent of intercollegiate athletics for women and much of the growth of intercollegiate sports for women can be credited to Bert. She was one of those go-to people that we could call upon at any time, and she would never hesitate to do anything for her beloved Winthrop. Her presence, guidance and leadership will be greatly missed.” 

For all of her efforts, Bobb received the 2018 Mary Mildred Sullivan Award during her 55th class reunion. This award, the highest honor to an alumna of Winthrop, recognized Bobb for her selfless dedication of time, energy and talent in services to others.

Years of Dedicated Service

When members of the Winthrop community talk about Bobb, they mention her passion and optimistic outlook. 

“Dr. Bobb loved Winthrop so much. She was a wonderful teacher, an advocate for women in athletics, an accomplished scholar, and a kind and generous person,” White said about Bobb, who worked with archives in many ways in preserving the history of Winthrop and women in athletics. She and others in the organization donated the SCAIAW records to the archives.

One of Bobb’s physical education students, Judy Wilkins Rose ’74, who retired as athletics director at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, said Bobb was instrumental in guiding her to graduate school. The two remained close over the years, and when Rose was inducted into the S.C. Athletic Hall of Fame in 2022, Rose was touched that despite some health issues, Bobb attended the ceremony with Winthrop Athletic Director Chuck Rey. “She had great leadership skills and always had a positive outlook,” Rose said. 

Those who worked in the Winthrop Coliseum – Rey and retired Athletic Director Tom Hickman – said their coaches, staffs and student-athletes were thankful for Bobb’s presence and her donations. “She was such a good ambassador for Winthrop,” Hickman said.

Bobb shared in 2019 why she felt it was important to be a donor. “Winthrop has been a big part of my life. My undergraduate degree gave me a strong educational background for advanced degrees and for my career,” she said. “It is expensive to go to college, and many students graduate with enormous debt. I am trying to contribute to scholarship programs and to support the initiatives of the university,” she said. “Through the years, our graduates have excelled after graduation and make wonderful contributions to society.”

Many Roles at Winthrop

Bobb earned her Bachelor of Science in physical education and health in 1963 from what was then Winthrop College. She began her teaching career at the Furman School before deciding to continue her education at the University of Tennessee as a graduate teaching assistant. Bobb received her Master of Science degree from Tennessee in 1966, then stayed two more years in Knoxville as an instructor and director of women’s intramurals. 

After earning her master’s degree, Bobb entered the coaching profession where she had three winning seasons at Coker College in field hockey, volleyball and basketball. Winthrop beckoned her back to Rock Hill where she served as an assistant professor of physical and special education while coaching field hockey and basketball. As Winthrop’s field hockey coach from 1972-77, Bobb won 64 percent of her games. 

In 1975-76, she coached the Winthrop women’s basketball team to a 16-8 record. 

After earning an Ed.D. degree from the University of Georgia in 1977, Bobb assumed administrative roles, first as an interim dean and associate dean for the School of Education and then as an assistant to three presidents: Phil Lader, Martha Kime Piper and Anthony DiGiorgio

She served as the chair for the university’s Centennial Celebration in 1986.

Bobb also held roles as director of academic advising, director of student services, and was chair of the health and physical education department. University administrators found that her people skills and work ethic were of great value to the institution. In addition, she volunteered on the Eagle Club board (2016-19) and the Alumni Association Executive Board (2017-19 and1985-87).

She worked tirelessly on several sports associations as an officer and volunteer, such as the Southern Association for Women in Physical Activity, Sport & Health; S.C. Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance; and the National Association for Physical Education in Higher Education. She also served on the Governor’s Commission on Women for two terms. 

Among some of the Winthrop awards earned by Bobb included the Winthrop President’s Citation in 1979 and the Winthrop President’s Award in 1993. She also was named a Distinguished Alumna by Winthrop’s physical education department in 2003 and she was inducted into the Winthrop Athletics Hall of Fame in 2008.

As Debbie Garrick ’87, ’89, senior development officer in the Office of Development, noted: “Winthrop helped shape Bert Bobb in her early years, and she spent the rest of her life repaying that contribution in helping shape future generations and the university. She was one of Winthrop’s great success stories. She will be greatly missed by all of us in the Winthrop family.”

Memorial contributions can be made to the Winthrop University Foundation (Bert Bobb Award), 206 Tillman Hall, Rock Hill, S.C., 29733.

For more information, please contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at 803/323-2236 or email longshawj@winthrop.edu

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