In Memory

Robert Plowman VIEW PROFILE

Information provided by Edna Chun:


Robert Plowman and I took group voice lessons in the conservatory together. It was pretty hilarious since neither one of us could sing and we were given Italian arias to sing to our small group class. We were both pianists. Robert was a very funny person, and he and Linda Bauman, a bassoon major, and I would clown around in front of Wilder Hall. I think I have a photo of us somewhere. He could make me laugh in a pressure cooker conservatory environment and made life better. 

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06/12/17 06:33 PM #1    

Edna Chun

"Photo of Bob Plowman, Michelle Lettrich, Linda Bauman, Bill Bohl"



05/22/18 01:47 PM #2    

Ralph Shapira

I had never known a gay person until Oberlin.  Bob was my first close gay friend.  He was positively hilarious, with a wicked sense of humor.  I Ioved being around Bob, and through him I came to know and enjoy something of Oberlin’s vibrant gay culture.  I wrote elsewhere about his close campus friendship with Marilyn Rall and the great times they had together.

We kept occasional contact after Oberlin.  Toward the end of his life Bob was working as a pianist in the Army band, I believe in Korea.  During a routine medical examination, the Army — without Bob’s knowledge or consent — tested Bob’s blood for HIV and found it positive. He was immediately discharged and stripped of benefits. 

He moved to San Francisco and eventually succumbed in hospice there, destitute. The Army’s treatment of Bob was beyond disgraceful.  His ending was one of countless personal tragedies during those sad and dark times.  



05/23/18 01:46 PM #3    

Edna Chun

Ralph, Thank you for posting this information about Bob Plowman. I had always wondered what had happened to him. It breaks my heart to learn of how he suffered and was treated. He was a bright light for me at Oberlin.



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