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Dr. Robert J. Alfonso (1928-2018)

Dr. Alfonso's appreciation of art perhaps began when his Garden City, New York elementary class was taken to The Metropolitan Museum on a field trip. From then on, at every opportunity he found a way to find where the art was and made an effort to see it.

In every professional position he had in education and in administration, he encouraged the arts, especially enjoying the visual arts, visiting the many shows on campus and in the towns where he lived.

He liked artists and supported them with enthusiasm, collecting and displaying their work in his home to the delight of his family and his many friends and visitors. Dr. Alfonso, former Vice President of Academic Affairs here at East Tennessee State University, passed away on Christmas Day, 2018. As we mourn his passing, we want to honor his memory by awarding the ROBERT J. ALFONSO AWARD.







Robert J. Alfonso

Dr. Robert J. Alfonso

JOHNSON CITY - Dr. Robert J. Alfonso, 90, Johnson City, died December 25, 2018 at Johnson City Medical Center following a lengthy illness.
He was born on December 17, 1928 in Queens, New York. He graduated from Garden City, New York High School in 1947 and from Roberts Wesleyan College, North Chili, New York, in 1952. After receiving his masters degree from New York University in 1953, he entered the United States Marine Corps, achieving the rank of First Lieutenant. In 1961, he earned a PhD from Michigan State University.

In 1956 he married Martha Ralston Alfonso. His career as an educator took them to Syracuse, N.Y.; Billings, Montana; Queens College, N.Y.; Washington, D.C.; University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa; Kent State University, Ohio; and finally East Tennessee State University, where he served as Vice President for Academic Affairs for 10 years, retiring in 1993.

In addition to his many professional accomplishments and activities, he was a great supporter of the arts, with leadership roles in the Johnson City Area Arts Council and the Suzuki School of Music, among others.

Bob had a beautiful singing voice, and at Roberts Wesleyan College he was a member of the Sacred Aires Quartet along with William Brunk, Donald Frederick, and Clyde Van Valin. They remained friends for life.

Bob will be remembered for his loyalty, his wit, his generosity, and his devotion to his friends and to his loving and grateful family.

He was preceded in death by his infant daughter, Andrea; by his parents Robert Richard and Bertha Schmitt Alfonso; and by his sister, Alice A. Emilio.

He is survived by his wife, Martha Ralston Alfonso; by his children, Allison Denise Alfonso and Robert John Alfonso, Jr.; by his granddaughter, Claire Olivia Alfonso; by his sister, Jeanne Alfonso Fraser; and by devoted nieces and nephews.

He was a member of Munsey Memorial Methodist Church.

The family wishes to thank the health care professionals for their loving care during Bob’s final days, especially those at Lakebridge.

Memories and condolences may be sent to the Alfonso family via