The Upper Arlington community is mourning the loss of longtime educator and local school board member Robert M. Arkin.

The Upper Arlington community is mourning the loss of longtime educator and local school board member Robert M. Arkin.

Arkin, a former undergraduate dean and psychology professor at Ohio State University and an Upper Arlington Board of Education member from 2002-13, died Dec. 12 at the age of 66.

James Arkin, one of Robert and Carol Arkin's three sons, said his father died after a three-year battle with cancer.

"He fought with a quiet strength and determination, without complaint and with his ever-present intelligence and humor," James Arkin said.

Both Upper Arlington City Council and the UA school board held moments of silence in honor of Arkin at their meetings last week.

Family and colleagues remembered him as a funny, energetic person who was dedicated to public service and nurturing young minds.

"Bob was an amazing man, a man that was full of life and full of love," said Superintendent Paul Imhoff, who was hired in 2013 while Arkin was still on the school board. "He loved great food, he loved to eat. He loved baseball -- he loved baseball.

"I will tell you Bob absolutely loved our school district. There was no greater supporter of our kids than Bob."

A Los Angeles native, Arkin held a doctorate in social psychology from the University of Southern California, a place where his family said he dedicated his life to education.

He went on to teach at the University of Missouri, where he met his wife, Carol. He then spent nearly three decades at OSU.

In announcing his decision to seek his first re-election to the board in May 2005, he told ThisWeek Upper Arlington, "Serving on the board of education has provided me the opportunity to see' support and participate firsthand in the extraordinary achievement and development of our students and to watch them prepare and be prepared for life and lifelong learning."

James Arkin said his father was "a true academic'" who was a researcher and "a dedicated teacher."

"The passion for education that led him to run for the board quickly developed into a specific love for the people and programs of the UA schools," he said. "He had a strong drive to continue to build the excellence of the schools, and a keen sense of ways in which that could be done."

Arkin added he hoped the community would remember his dad "as a dedicated board member who took his work for the district very seriously but never himself, and as a bright, likeable, engaged and witty man who was able to see the forest without the trees getting in the way."

Board members who served with Robert Arkin agreed, saying he was devoted to ensuring all members of the school community -- from students and parents to teachers and staff -- were positioned to achieve.

They also hailed him as a tremendous personality and loyal and thoughtful friend.

"With Bob's passing, our community has lost a most decidedly passionate, perceptive and steadfast voice on behalf of our most precious resource -- UA's children," said Margie Pizzuti, who served the same 12 years as Arkin on the board. "Throughout our 12-year journey together on the board of education, Bob represented our 'true north' with his knowledge and intellect as an educator and his deep and abiding commitment to the core values that guided his decisions.

"He was my beloved colleague and friend with a heartfelt wit and uncanny ability to 'turn a phrase' in a way that was simply stunning."

Current board member Robin Comfort, who served on the board during Arkin's final term, said his propensity for discussing and debating ideas frequently extended the lengths of meetings.

"I almost wanted to kick him under the table sometimes," she joked.

Comfort added that she became "very, very good friends" with Arkin and noted she wore a necklace at the Dec. 13 board meeting as a tribute to Arkin, who gave it to her as a gift from his trip to Shangai in summer 2013 when he taught psychology to college students there.

"It's just reflective of who Bob was," Comfort said. "He was a real leader on our school board and I learned a tremendous amount from him.

"He will be missed."

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