Robert J. Galvin of Brookline died of cancer on May 27, 2020 at the age of 81.
Bob was born in 1938 in New Haven, Connecticut to Herman and Freda (Helfand) Galvin. His father founded and conducted a multi-state distribution business. His mother was a homemaker and long-time volunteer at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
In 1957 Bob graduated from Hopkins School, a 360 years old college preparatory school in New Haven, and in 1961 from Union College in Schenectady, New York. At Union he was Editor-in-Chief of Concordiensis, the college newspaper, and a member of Kappa Nu fraternity. During his time as editor, Bob printed news and opinions with which the Student Council disagreed. To punish Bob they cut off funding for the newspaper, but the Albany Times-Union printed and distributed the school newspaper, with the result that the circulation of Concordienses increased from 1,500 to more than 50,000. This experience led to Bob’s life-long love of newspapers and the principle of freedom of the press. To the end of his life Bob received and read three newspapers every day: the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.
In 1967 Bob graduated from Suffolk University Law School. He was a shareholder/director of the Boston law firm of Davis, Malm & D’Agostine. He was an expert in real estate law, particularly the law of condominiums and cooperatives, and commercial landlord-tenant law. Bob was a member of the American, Massachusetts and Boston Bar Associations, and lectured, taught and wrote widely in his field. He created scores of residential, mixed-use, retail and industrial condominiums. He was editor and co-author of Massachusetts Condominium Law, the standard textbook for lawyers and judges in the field. He wrote the chapter on condominiums for Crocker’s Notes on Common Forms, another standard text. He had a scholarly interest in the philosophy and writings of Henry David Thoreau (Bob’s license plate read THORO). Bob was an elected fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, a life member of the Museum of Fine Arts, the Boston Athenaeum and the Thoreau Society. He served for twenty-five years on the board of directors of the Boston Center for Adult Education (BCAE), four years as its president. Bob served for ten years on the board of the Thoreau Society, four as its vice president. He served for thirty years as president of the Beech Hill Foundation, Inc. Bob served on the investment committees of the BCAE, Thoreau Society, and his law firm.
Bob was an enthusiastic reader who read widely. He loved reading books by and about Churchill, and treasured his many trips to the United Kingdom. In 2012 he studied law at Oxford University, and in 2015 he attended the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta at Runnymede. In his younger days, Bob skied during the winter, and sailed his boat Concordiensis in the summer. During his time at Union College, Bob earned his airplane pilot license.
Bob is survived by his sons David and Peter. Bob was proud of the accomplishments of David, a product management executive and business consultant, and Peter, an environmentalist and founder of the Center for Biological Diversity. They were a joy to Bob from the day they were born and were central to his existence. Bob is also survived by his grandchildren, Timothy and Amberlee. Bob frequently remarked at his great good fortune to be the father of his sons and grandfather to Timothy and Amberlee. He is also survived by his beloved sisters, Jane, an actress and international acting coach; and Harriett, a lawyer and life-long prosecutor; six nieces and nephews, and his brother-in-law Stanley, a PhD in American studies and successful entrepreneur.
Bob’s marriage to Susan Goldstein, the mother of his children ended in 1971. Bob was a close friend of the late Joyce Buczak. For twenty-five years he was privileged to share his life with the late Phyllis Yachimski. Since 2012, Bob’s life was enriched by his relationship with his inamorata Judith Himber, a doctor of psychology, and the world’s only Jewish Mayflower descendant. They found each other on Match.com.
Bob’s remains will be buried at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. Respecting his wishes, there will be no funeral service. In lieu of charitable donations, friends and family may send flowers. But if you are so disposed, contributions may be made in Bob’s memory to the Thoreau Society, 341 Virginia Road, Concord, Massachusetts 01742, and/or the Center for Biological Diversity, PO Box 710, Tucson Arizona 85702-0710.