David Overly Robbins

July 01, 1943 ‒ September 30, 2018

Delaware, Ohio

David Overly Robbins, 75  passed away on Sunday, September 30, 2018 at Grady Memorial Hospital  after a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer.

David was a resident of Liberty Twp., Delaware, Ohio and Ocean City, New Jersey.

He was born in Bryn Mawr, PA on July 1, 1943 and grew up in Havertown, PA and Ocean City NJ.  He graduated from Haverford High School and earned a B.A. in Biology and Psychology from Lycoming College and M.A. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Delaware.  David completed a postdoctoral fellowship in Physiology at the Eye Research Foundation of Bethesda, MD where he later became a principle investigator and Director of Research at the Foundation. For over forty years he was a professor, then Provost and Interim President at Ohio Wesleyan University.  At Ohio Wesleyan University he also served as the Chairperson of the Department of Psychology,  Director of the University’s Summer Science Program and Cofounder of the Neuroscience Program. He was awarded an Honorary Alumnus from Ohio Wesleyan in 2008 and received several honors from Ohio Wesleyan including the Sherwood Dodge Shankland Award for the Encouragement of Teachers and Hebert Welch Meritorious Teaching Award.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Morris and Anne Robbins and brother Allen Robbins.

He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Janice, sister, Marianne and her partner, James Cisco, two daughters Drs. Cynthia Robbins and Karen Robbins, sons-in-law River Bailey and Andrew Knapp, and precious granddaughter Lydia Robbins Knapp.

A memorial service will be held at 6:00 PM Thursday, October 4, 2018 at the Snyder-Rodman Funeral Center, 101 Valleyside Drive, Delaware, Ohio 43015. Family and friends may call from 5:00 p.m. until the time of the service. Burial will take place Saturday, October 6, 2018 at the Valley Forge Memorial Gardens, King of Prussia, PA.


In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to Ohio Wesleyan’s Neuroscience Summer Internship Program (David and Janice Robbins Internship), the David and Janice Robbins Summer Neuroscience Internship at Lycoming College or your favorite charity.

To share a fond memory or to leave a message of condolence please visit www.snyderfuneralhomes.com

  • I had Dr. Robbins for only one semester of an introductory neuroscience class. In that short time he modeled patience, grace, and integrity at its best. Sending thoughts of peace and comfort…

  • David hired me 38 years ago and quickly became my dear colleague and friend. What a multi-talented person: teacher, researcher, department chair, budget guru, mentor, social organizer, innovator—all done with excellence, humility, compassion, and good humor. The OWU community has lost an unparalleled leader and I have lost a close friend. To David’s family and friends I offer my sincere sympathy.

  • Dear Robbins family , I did not have the pleasure to meet such a accomplish man. But I know your daughter Karen . Based on the kindness and sweetness that shines from her. You must have been a wonderful person. As they say the apple never falls far from the tree . My deepest sympathy to your family.

  • Karen, and all Robbins, thinking of you in this hard time. Your dad’s humor is most salient for me! Oh my goodness!! Grateful too he knew Lydia. Maybe she got the glint in his eye. Prayers and love.

  • A person that departs from this earth never truly leaves, for they are still alive in our hearts and minds, through us, they live on. Please accept my condolences, David will not be forgotten.

  • Dave and I became friends when we both seemed to “follow” each other onto different faculty committees, starting back in the 70s. I remember him quickly leaving a committee meeting after he got word that his first daughter was about to be born. He was a fine, good man… decent, honest, always full of integrity. He was always willing to lend a helping hand in any way if he could. Dave and I became lunch buddies and spent a lot of time talking about God and faith. Rest in peace, my friend.

  • I admired and valued David more than any other colleague in my career. He understood, appreciated, helped and supported others regardless of their shortcomings. His kindness, his many talents, and his good humor were an inspiration to all who had the privilege of knowing him. Cindy and Karen, I share your great grief. It is sad that Lydia will not be able remember her wonderful grandfather

  • My deepest sympathies to the Robbins family. I knew Dave as a professor when I was a student at OWU, but came to know him well when I served on the Board of Trustees. He was a delight! He was always helpful and always had a good story. We shared a love of Philadelphia and the Jersey shore. The OWU community has lost a champion and I have lost a friend. I hope the family can take comfort in knowing that Dave touched so many people— keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  • David Robbins was mature and level-headed, rarer qualities than one might expect.
    David was a wonderful colleague and an exemplary husband and parent. Cindy and Karen exemplify his skills.
    In him we lose a model human being, an outstanding teacher, a fine scholar, and a helpful administrator.
    David and I were planning to have lunch together Thursday. We will have to postpone that.
    David Robbins was a generous man, generous about others’ faults, modest about his own achievements. He cared for the needy in his family, with his colleagues, and the larger world. He shared whatever he had. Crede experto.
    Marianne and I miss him already.

  • Fond memories of Dave — with the glint in his eye, when he came up with a special thought or memory of his own to share.
    Remembering Dave with respect and fondness as a colleague and Dave and Jan as friends for over 50 years. He generously shared a life well lived with legions of us.

  • I will always remember David for hiring me to my first academic job, and for his support through my first few years as a new faculty member. He will be missed.

  • Cindy and Karen,
    Growing up – as you did- as a child of the OWU psych department your father was a great, ebullient, energetic presence.

    He had a truly wonderful ability to make you feel seen and welcome no matter the place or circumstance.

    I will miss him and am deeply sorry for your loss.

  • David Robbins; smart,humorous,kind and genuine. It was an honor to have known this true gentleman.

  • Dave Robbins was the best friend and mentor to me that any faculty mentor could have asked for. He was my inspiration for all the years I was at OWU; no matter how hard I tried, I could never be nearly as good as he. Smart — oh, was Dave smart — and patient and creative and the hardest-working person I knew. He loved our little university so, and served it in every way he could. I learned so much from him, and truly valued him as a friend. Our community is diminished by his passing.

    Dave will always be in my heart. He touched many of us deeply,

  • My deepest sympathies go out to all of the Robbins family. I never had the honor of meeting David but I know he was a great man, father, husband, grandfather and brother because of the years of stories and memories shared by his beloved sister Marianne. I know he was loved deeply and will leave behind a great legacy.

    “Say not in grief that they are gone, but give thanks that they were yours.”
    ~~ Hebrew proverb

  • David is irreplaceable. He was a man of humility, great courage, optimism, possessed of a wonderful sense of humor, kind and helpful to others, always welcoming. Go with God, dear friend.

  • Dear Marianne and Robbins Family,
    I am sorry to hear of the loss of your brother. He sounds like a remarkable and intelligent man with much to be proud of. May your fond memories of him bring you comfort.

  • Dave, Jan, Cindy and Karen have been a “side by side” family for us from our very arrival in Delaware, bringing mutual stories of the NJ shore and the Philadelphia area. We shared holiday dinners, featuring Dave’s model train set and the soups which were his cooking specialty, as well as summer get-togethers; Jan and I have been lunch companions; Cindy, Karen, Ulysses and Abe shared uproarious summer adventures as “babysittees” of Anna Huckabee. I always found Dave interesting to talk to, for good observations usually combined with humor.
    So losing Dave is painfully like losing one of our own family. Don and I will miss him and we share Dave’s family’s sorrow.

  • I haven’t visited Delaware much in recent years, but Dave was one of the faces I always looked forward to seeing. In my mind he was joviality personified; I am glad I saw him on my most recent Delaware visit at Thanksgiving 2017 and was able to hear his laugh one more time. My condolences to Jan, Cindy, Karen, and the rest of the extended Robbins family.

  • Dave was a great, but competitive, neighbor whom we loved:

    • One of us would dig a pond, the other dug a pond.
    • One would add a deck to the yard, the other would add a gazebo.
    • One would buy a new lawn mower or tractor, the other would by a new lawn mower or tractor.
    • We both got the lawnmower or tractor stuck in our respective ponds and tried to hide it from the other.

    But my favorite is Dave’s victory over political signs. For many general elections, Dave would have a political sign for a political candidate in the center of his front yard on Bean Oller. One year I decided that I would see what Dave’s reaction would be if I added political signs of the opposing candidate and then other candidates that Dave probably would not support. I added one each night until there were about six flanking each side of his sign

    Dave, the ultimate psychologist, never acknowledged the additional signs, and left them in place until after the election. A few years ago when visiting Dave and Jan, I told them the story about the signs. His response was, “I don’t remember any such signs.” Jan was polite enough to remain silent.

    This was an expensive prank on my part because, in addition to Dave’s silence, I had to make political contributions to the candidates’ campaigns in order to get the damn signs! And one of those still solicits us even though we now live in Colorado.

  • Jo and I are heartbroken by this news! David Robbins was the best boss I could have ever had. He was compassionate, thoughtful, ethical and always put the student first. He supported our efforts in athletics like no other. We are praying for the Robbins family and will carry you in our hearts.

  • Many friends offMr. Robinson were fond of his humor. He was honored many times. The greatest honor he will ever receive is that promised byJesus at John 5:28,29

  • David was such a wonderful colleague and friend. He was always available to share a story or insight, provide mentorship and wisdom, and share a laugh. He was a kind voice and an incredible support to me. I was and am so grateful for him. My greatest sympathies to you all.

  • I was shocked to hear about the passing of Dr. Robbins. He and I were in different departments and our interactions were limited to committee works and occasional conversations. In the last three years of my stay at OWU, he served as a competent Provost and Interim President helping the university through its transition. He was an exemplar scholar-teacher and a man of integrity, honesty, and wisdom. With his passing, the OWU has lost one of his best. I never forget his calm manner and strong moral character. Rest in peace David.