Bob Stanley ’79, lifelong Suffield resident and hero, President of ASSIST, and international juggernaut passed away peacefully on Monday, April 20, 2020, after battling cancer for over 29 years. A New England native, Bob spent his life traveling the world and touching countless lives across dozens of countries. His influence knows no borders or bounds. Bob was born on March 4, 1961, in Waltham, Massachusetts, and moved to Suffield in 1969. At Suffield Middle School, Bob emerged as a star pupil and self-proclaimed grade grubber, though his passion for education was fully ignited at Suffield Academy, his first love. At Suffield, Bob was a scholar, a varsity athlete, class president, and a star setback player—he embodied the Suffield Academy motto esse quam videri (to be rather than to seem) in every facet of his life.
Bob was undoubtedly one of the brightest lights among us. Like a sun, he pulled us in with his gravity and warm glow. If you caught Bob working on the weekend, which was often, his good-humored response was always, “World peace waits for no one!”
After graduating from Suffield Academy in 1979 with many distinguished honors, Bob attended Brown University, finding his launchpad into the business world in Brown Student Agencies. Bob began his professional career at G. Fox in Hartford, where he met his wife, Anne—his better and equally stubborn half. After four years, Bob answered the call of his Tiger roots and returned to Suffield Academy in 1987. He worked at Suffield for 13 years as a teacher, dorm parent, varsity hockey coach, and dean of students, in addition to holding roles in admissions and development. His happy place, Suffield Academy, is where he and Anne married in 1989, started their family, and where they would send their two daughters, Jordan ’13 and Olivia ’16.
During his early years at Suffield, Bob spent four summers at Camp Rising Sun, a free camp for Connecticut children with cancer. As the director, a position he held for three years, Bob was touched by the resilient young campers and volunteer health care staff—pivotal inspirations in Bob’s own journey. During this era, Bob also earned his master’s degree at Yale Divinity School where he nurtured a deep faith, which would shape him as a person. He presided over weddings for many friends and family and eulogized his loved ones. In July 2000, Bob became the third president of ASSIST (American Secondary Schools for International Students and Teachers), relocating its headquarters to Suffield. He led the organization for 20 years with Anne by his side, serving over 3,000 students during his tenure and becoming the longest-running president in the organization’s history. Bob believed that education was the answer. He maintained that bringing together young people was the key to promote understanding and tolerance spanning a world of cultures, racial designations, and religious beliefs. If you caught Bob working on the weekend, which was often, his good-humored response was always, “World peace waits for no one!” With this mindset, Bob made his mark as a visionary leader who acted with purpose, compassion, and integrity.
In 2015, he was recognized with an award from the Institute of International Education for his powerful contributions to the world of international education. Most recently, Bob was named as one of the recipients of the 2020 Alumni Leadership Award from Suffield Academy, which honors graduates who have displayed notable leadership in their professional careers or in a humanitarian endeavor. Bob was loved from every corner of the globe for being an extraordinary friend and mentor. There was something about Bob that made everyone want to be around him. He was incredibly witty, and it was easy to make him laugh; experienced together, this made him irresistible. He was infinitely dedicated to his family—his world. Bob’s courageous and impactful life reminds us of a saying: the brightest stars burn the quickest. Bob was undoubtedly one of the brightest lights among us. Like a sun, he pulled us in with his gravity and warm glow.
Rather than feeling lost with Bob’s passing, we instead look around us. We are the solar system he strung together, the community to which he gave his heart. That’s what Bob did best; that’s what he did for us. He connected people and helped us to shine brighter and more brilliantly for knowing him. Special stars in Bob’s life who survive him: his unparalleled partner in life, in love, and in providing compassion to others, Anne; his loving daughters Jordan and Olivia; his loving mother Carol Stanley-Carroll and her husband Richard Carroll; his brother and best friend John and his wife Cindy; his much loved and “favorite sister” Susan; and his nieces and nephews Samantha, Rob, and Kelly. He is also survived by Anne’s father, five siblings, many nieces and nephews, and great-nieces and nephews.