Robert Shelby Frank

November 28, 1945 - January 17, 2023


Obituary For Robert Shelby Frank

Robert Shelby Frank — beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend — passed away surrounded by his wife and children on January 17, 2023 at the age of 77 in Raleigh, NC.Robert was born to James and Virginia (Snider) Frank in Pittsburgh, PA on November 28th, 1945. Bright and studious, Robert graduated from Bishop Hartley High School in Columbus, OH. He received a scholarship to study at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN where he obtained his undergraduate degree in political science. He earned his Master’s and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in International Relations at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA, and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Yale University in New Haven, CT.Robert met his future-wife, Karen Anne (Owens) Frank, on a skiing trip with friends in 1977. A year later, Robert called Karen and asked to buy her old skis. Karen’s quick-witted reply inquiring why on earth he would want a pair of ladies’ skis revealed the pretext for a first date invitation. At dinner, they both ordered the fish entrees and knew it was meant to be. Robert and Karen were married on May 19th, 1979 and would remain married for the next 43 years.Robert and Karen created a beautiful family. They welcomed their first daughter, Virginia Elizabeth, named after both their mothers, in 1983. Their second daughter, Katherine Lee, was born in 1984. Their baby boy, Charles Shelby, was born in 1988. Robert was a generous and loving father to his three lucky children, who reminisce on his sage advice, subtle jokes, and epic storytelling. Throughout his life, Robert channeled his education and creativity into many passions. He was truly a renaissance man — in addition to a devoted husband and father, Robert was a talented novelist, a tea-enthusiast, a painter, an avid reader, a comedian, a chef, a dog-lover, an educator, the ultimate Pittsburgh Pirates fan, a philosopher, a pianist, a collector of art and stamps, and a trusted friend and confidante. He is remembered for his intelligence, his sense of humor, his endearing eccentricities, and his commitment to his family.Robert was preceded in death by his mother, his father, and countless aquarium fish and houseplants.He is survived by his loving wife; his grateful children and their spouses, Virginia (Frank) and Patrick Harvey, Katherine (Frank) and Nafis Ahmed, and Charles and Maribelle (Dizon) Frank; his seven doting grandchildren; his brother and wife, Roger and Kiffany Frank; his sister and wife, Linda Jack and Cindy Gunn; and his two spoiled dogs.Services will be held at a later date.In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the Sierra Club Foundation.

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