fb pixel

Log In


Reset Password

Robert Martin Cipes

February 9, 1930 - June 12, 2018

Bob was born February 9, 1930 in Mt. Vernon, New York. He died of age-related causes June 12, 2018 in Eugene, Oregon.

Bob graduated in 1946 from A.B. Davis High School in Mt. Vernon and was first in his class of 325 students. He entered Harvard at the age of 16, graduating cum laude with a B.A. degree in English. From 1951-’53 he was stationed in Germany as an Intelligence Specialist. When discharged he worked as a magazine editor and writer, and in public relations for the N.Y. Port Authority. In 1954 Bob entered Yale Law School, and was married to the love of his life, Amy. Their first child, Peter was born in 1957 just before Bob graduated. Two other children followed, Judith and Eric. At Yale Bob headed the YLS Public Defenders and served as Assistant to the Public Defender of New Haven County. In 1957 he received a juris doctor from Yale and was selected to serve as Confidential Law Assistant to Judge Charles Froessel of the New York Court of Appeals.

After three years in private practice in New York City, Bob was appointed an Assistant United States Attorney, serving under Attorney General Robert Kennedy, and United States Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau. In 1963 Bob was Chair of the N.Y. County Lawyer’s Association Committee on Law & Psychiatry. In 1964, as a Justice Department Attorney in Washington, D.C., Bob was an organizer of the Department’s landmark Conference on Bail & Criminal Justice. His experience as a prosecutor and law reformer led to his writing The Rules of Criminal Procedure in 1965, the nation’s first definitive treatise on federal criminal procedure.

Bob began his teaching career in 1965 as Founder and Director of the nation's first training program for Legal Services Attorneys, under a grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity. In 1966, he joined the Institute of Criminal Law and Procedure at Georgetown University as a Senior Research Attorney. In 1967, Bob and his family moved to Santa Barbara and he became a Visiting Lecturer at the University of California teaching courses on criminal law and sociology. His book The Crime War was published that year, with selections from it first appearing in The Atlantic Monthly. In 1969, Bob was the editor and co-author of the multi-volume Criminal Defense Techniques. Among his many civic activities during this period of his life, Bob was a Board Member of the Santa Barbara Legal Defense Center. In 1979, at the request of the Quaker Prison Visitation Service, Bob began to make monthly visits to the Federal Correctional Institution at Lompoc, California, where for four years he counseled a small group of long-term prisoners and filed post-conviction lawsuits in federal courts on their behalf.

Before joining the UCSB English Department in the 1980s, Bob served as a teacher-counselor at a federally funded alternative school; taught classes in American Values and other subjects at the UCSB Upward Bound Program; and taught a course for juvenile probation officers on California Law of Parent-Child Relations through the UCSB Extension. His classes were best known for a multidisciplinary, dialogue approach tailored to each individual student’s strengths. He was deeply beloved as a very memorable teacher, and he maintained contact with several of his students for the remainder of his life.

In 1991 Bob relocated to Ashland, Ore., to be near his family. He joined the English Department to teach Composition, and Argumentative Writing & Critical Thinking at what is now Southern Oregon University. For many years he was a volunteer teacher in the Ashland-Guanajuato exchange program, tutoring Mexican students pursuing graduate degrees. He had long-term friendships with several of these students as well. During his twenty years in Ashland he also helped pioneer a very popular Pet Therapy Program at a senior living community, sponsored and directed a well-attended Movie Night for seniors, and most especially, was devoted to his twin granddaughters. At various stages, Bob (aka Baba) also helped to raise his eldest granddaughter, who has special needs. In addition to his multitude of professional accomplishments and ceaseless dedication to his ex-wife and best friend, Amy; his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, extended family members, and long-time friends, Bob had a deeply passionate life-long love of dogs. In later years he also wrote two historical biographical plays, a comedic novel satirizing Harvard, and six months before he died he completed a formidable autobiography to leave as a legacy for his family and friends. Bob spent the last seven years of his life in Eugene, Ore., living with his daughter. In 2017 he was honored for his 87th birthday with a retrospective art show at the Emerald Gallery in Springfield, Ore., and a feature article was published about him in the Eugene Register Guard.

Bob is survived by his children, Peter (Karen), Judith, and Rick; his grandchildren, Erica, Kristin (Mickie), and Jessica; and his great-grandchildren, Diego, Kamila, and Zêdan. His beloved Amy died in 2009. His parents, and his brother Jay, also preceded him in death.

In honor of Bob please send handwritten letters to family and friends, especially to elders, and always be exceptionally gentle and kind to children and animals. Please also consider donating to Bob’s favorite charity, Guide Dogs for the Blind. A Celebration of Life for Bob will be held at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, August 25, 2018 at the Ashland Community Center, 59 Windburn Way. All are invited to come share remembrances of Bob in spoken word, music, poetry, and any other form of artistic and creative expression.

Robert Martin Cipes