The end of an era occurred on February 4th with the passing of Professor Bob Nowack. In his 62 years teaching at Clemson, Bob not only was one of the best educators of students, but he also cared about students as individuals. His goal was not only to make them better students, but better men and women as well.
Bob was known affectionately as “PB,” for Professor Bob, by most of his students. He had a reputation for being the best teacher, but also one of the hardest. Those students that didn’t call him PB sometimes called him “No Pass Nowack.” But even those students recognized how much they learned about not only Statics or Dynamics, but also about life in general.
During Bob’s 62 years at Clemson, the University went through enormous changes, with issues such as expanding graduate education, increasing emphasis on research, and budget concerns to name a few. Bob was at Clemson for the changing from a military school, the admission of female students, segregation, and an untold number of University presidents. However, Bob did not change in his unwavering dedication to the education and development of undergraduate students.
Bob taught many thousands of students during his time at Clemson. He taught not only children, but grandchildren of students that he previously had taught. He had an uncanny ability to remember not only his current students, but also students that he taught decades ago. On numerous occasions during the 40+ years I had the good fortune to call Bob my friend, I saw former students from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s walk into Bob’s office and he not only recognized them, but he could remember stories of them from their days in his classes.
Bob always was in the teaching profession for the students. He never cared about personal recognition or teaching awards, although he received much recognition and received many awards through the years. Bob’s decision to hold no visitation hours or funeral service is totally consistent with the way that he conducted himself throughout his lifetime. With Bob, it always was about the students.
Clemson University will not be the same without PB, and Lowry Hall will seem a little dimmer without Bob in the classroom or advising students about courses or about life in his office. During his time on earth Bob was a living legend. He now will live on in the fond memories of his friends and colleagues, but most importantly in the loving memories of thousands of his students.
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