the midst of the Depression in 1937, all Robert R. Gerhart
Jr. ’41 wanted was to go to Albright College, but he
didn’t have the money for tuition.
to get an education, the 18-year-old visited an Albright admissions
officer at home and begged for a break. They struck a deal for
Robert to attend the city college for $15 a month.
Lillian S. Livinghouse, accompanied him to that meeting and stood
by his side for support.
was interested in me getting that education from the very beginning,” Robert
said of the woman he would marry in 1941 and spend the next 62
years of his life with.
had planned for years to leave a legacy at Albright – something
that would come from both of them, said Robert, 83.
when doctors diagnosed 83-year-old Lillian with colon cancer
this fall, Robert knew that he and his wife didn’t have
much time to thank Albright together.
As a former
state lawmaker from Berks County and successful entrepreneur
in public relations, cable television and the resort hotel business,
Robert was able to build a first-rate living for himself, Lillian
and their three children.
money for a major donation to Albright was never there – until
recently, Robert said.
Lillian’s two months of illness, Robert became determined
to make the gift while she was alive.
when she was in the hospital toward the end, I told her, ‘We’re
going to do this, Lillian,’” he said.
family standing around her bed, Lillian died Jan. 29.
before, a $1.5 million gift from the Gerharts was finalized to
endow a faculty chair in communications at Albright.
was Albright’s largest from a living donor, said Barbara
J. Marshall, college spokeswoman.
enable the College to hire a prestigious professor for its communications
department and to expand the existing program, said Dr. Henry
A. Zimon, Albright president.
know of no liberal arts college like Albright that has an endowed
chair in the type of communications program the Gerharts are
endowing,” Zimon said.
said he and his wife wanted to thank Albright for giving him
a strong foundation.
started college, he told one professor, Dr. John B. Doud, that
he was going to be a newspaperman. It was a big dream in the
Depression era, a time when work was hard to find.
after school began, Doud received a call from a Reading Times
editor, who was seeking a cub reporter.
got the job, which he held for 10 years.
all started with Albright and the newspaper,” Robert said. “That’s
the whole basis of my lifetime operation.”
About the Gift
The Gerhart’s $1.5 million gift
to Albright College will establish the Bob and Lillian Gerhart
Chair in Communications.
It is Albright’s first faculty chair in communications and the College’s
fourth endowed chair.
The money will go into an endowment fund, which is invested and
earns interest over time.
The College will use part of the investment earnings to pay the
salary of a designated faculty member.
Being designated for an endowed chair is an important honor at
The Gerhart chair holder will design an interdisciplinary program
in communications that effectively addresses both the medium
and the message,
Previously, the Gerharts established a scholarship at Albright
for needy and worthy students.
graduation, Robert married Lillian, whom he had known since first
grade and dated since his sophomore year in Robesonia High School.
played the lovely, gracious wife, but behind the scenes, she
worked as hard as Robert, and she supported him in every endeavor.
later she used to say to me, ‘Whatever you want to do,
I’m with you. You always come through,’” Robert
recalled. “When you have somebody saying that to you, that’s
a marriage filled with risky and lucrative business ventures,
a political career and world travel.
Robert worked in Harrisburg and Reading, Lillian managed a Wildwood
resort they owned and raised their children.
true partners, Robert said.
and Robert rode elephants in Nepal, slept in nomad huts in Mongolia,
climbed Egypt’s pyramids, and just last October, they visited
of the strong basis of a college education, the Gerhart family
enjoyed the good life, Robert said.
it’s hard to believe his time with Lillian is over, Robert
said she lived her life to the fullest.
the salvation I have,” he said.
Robert R. Gerhart
Family: Wife, Lillian, (deceased); children, Sara Anne Light,
61; Robert R. Gerhart III, 60; Phillip Alan Gerhart, 56; three
and two great-grandchildren.
Education: Robesonia High School, 1937
graduate; Albright College, bachelor of arts degree, 1941.
Residence: Pompano Beach, Fla., and
• Reporter for the Reading Times, 1938-48
• Editor of New Era, a weekly labor
• State representative, 1966-68
• State Senator, 1968-72
• Owned Diamond Beach Resort,
Wildwood, N.J., 1966-1986
• Operated Roberts and Co., a public
• Robesonia Borough Council president for
• President of Wernersville State Hospital board of trustees for
• Former public relations and marketing
manager of AAA Reading/Berks.
• Founder and former part-owner of
Suburban TV Cable Co.