Belmont Abbey College News — By admin
Funeral Arrangements For Dr. Robert Preston, President-Emeritus Of Belmont Abbey College, Announced
August 23rd, 2011
There will be a visitation at the Belmont Abbey Basilica this evening (August 23) from 7-9 p.m., and a Mass of Christian Burial at the Abbey Basilica tomorrow (August 24) beginning at 4 p.m., followed by interment in the Abbey Cemetery.
Former Belmont Abbey College President Robert Preston died at noon this past Saturday in High Point of pancreatic cancer.
Helen, his wife of 53 years, said Preston, 80, found out he had terminal pancreatic cancer on July 26 after a visit to the doctor’s office. He attended a family reunion in the western part of the United States in July when he began not feeling well. He was diagnosed shortly after returning to their apartment in a High Point retirement community.
Helen Preston said her husband’s cancer diagnosis and death happened “very fast.”
McLean’s Funeral Service in Belmont is in charge of the arrangements and there are plans in the works to have a Mass and burial on the campus of Belmont Abbey College, she said.
“He was calm, always calm, even tempered, very slow to anger, always fair, generous to a fault, a gentleman,” Helen Preston said. “He was thoughtful, he was proud of his family, all of whom have done so well. He took great pride in that.”
He graduated from Belmont Abbey College in 1953 and would go on to serve as president from 1995-2001. The Prestons moved from their home at Lake Wylie, S.C., to High Point in 2008.
Preston received his doctorate from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and did post-doctorate studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said Helen Preston.
During his career, he taught undergraduate studies at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, and taught in the graduate school at St. Louis University, she said.
He worked as academic dean at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky., and provost at Loyola University in New Orleans, before becoming president of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., Helen Preston said.
From there, he became provost at Benedictine University in Lisle, Ill., and then president of Belmont Abbey College.
“He was quite a scholar. He was very good at what he did,” Helen Preston said. “Universities invited him in to look at their academic programs and to design for them some of their academic programs and their faculty handbooks. When he did his post-doctorate work, particularly at Harvard, he concentrated on that. The different schools wanted his expertise.”
‘A trail of friends’
Preston was born June 6, 1931, in Richmond, Va. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean Conflict and worked as a reporter and feature writer for The Richmond Times-Dispatch as a young man, Helen Preston said.
He was preceded in death by his son, Robert Andrews Preston Jr., and a sister, Patricia Hardie.
Preston leaves behind four children and nine grandchildren.
“He was a very busy man. He was very, very intelligent – did lots of things in his lifetime,” she said. “Looking back on it now as we think about it, I was with him a lot of that time but now I wonder how we did it all. He left a trail of friends all over the United States. I’m getting calls and emails and all kinds of communication.”
Helen Preston said her husband was very active with the work of the Rotary Club and other civic organizations. She described him as a man who loved academics and although his career led to the administrative side of education, his heart was in the classroom.
“He very much made himself available for the students, as this was his mission, to be a teacher… and he was an excellent teacher,” she said. “He was an unusual man and very much devoted to Belmont Abbey College.”
Helen said expressions of sympathy can be made monetarily to the Robert Preston Family Scholarship Fund at Belmont Abbey.
“They honored him and myself with a scholarship when he retired as president,” she said. “We’re very devoted to that.”
Permission to reprint story granted by the author, Wade Allen, reporter for The Gaston Gazette. www.gastongazette.com. Link to online article: http://www.gastongazette.com/news/college-60146-preston-abbey.html
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