March 27, 2013
Bob (Robert M.) Mantock passed from this life the day before yesterday. He was not a graduate of Earlham, but he made himself a valuable member of the Earlham community through service as a member of the Board of Trustees from 2000 to 2009. The obituary from the Muncie Star Press is here.
Bob became a Board member through his membership in Indiana Yearly Meeting. He was a member of Muncie Memorial, a Friends Church with historically strong ties to Earlham. When he said yes to service on the Earlham Board, I wonder if he didn’t have some concerns about what he was letting himself in for. He quickly became one of Earlham best friends, equally committed to both the College and ESR.
I especially remember a moment early in his service when the Board decided to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination statement. With Indiana Yearly Meeting having a Minute from 1982 declaring homosexuality to be a sin, this was a potentially difficult moment, one quite likely to spark conflict between Earlham and the Yearly Meeting. I dutifully wrote the IYM superintendent and presiding clerk of the decision, and I could sense the rumbles of a gathering storm. But that storm never came. I later learned Bob had received an upset phone call and driven over to the Yearly Meeting offices to explain why this decision made sense for Earlham and why it would be wise for the Yearly Meeting not to oppose the decision. With quiet courage, he put himself on the line.
Given that Indiana Yearly Meeting would later (2012) tear itself apart largely over the question of how its members should view homosexuality, and that Muncie Memorial should find itself cast out of IYM, his forthrightness and integrity shine all the brighter a dozen years later.
Another reason for gratitude: Bob served as a member of the Board’s Property and Finance Committee, and as its chair for the last several years of his tenure. He proved a dedicated, steady, wise steward of Earlham’s resources. Several of the large facilities projects recently completed or now under construction first germinated during his time of service.
I will miss Bob’s ready smile, his generosity, and his absolutely reliable willingness to be of service to others.