In Memoriam

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Robert William Spooner ’67

Rob left Reed with a degree in mathematics but ended up a magazine publisher, a trajectory he attributed to chaos theory, which holds that small differences in initial conditions yield widely diverging outcomes.

Born and raised in Grapeview, Washington, he was active in 4-H. At Reed he majored first in physics and then in math, writing his thesis, “An Investigation of Elementary Category Theory,” with Prof. John Leadley [math 1956–93]. After earning his master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Saskatchewan, he discovered that nobody wanted to hire a man with a master’s degree in algebraic topology. So he opened a computer company in in Calgary, Alberta, designing and building operating systems. His first marriage had ended in divorce, and in Calgary he met Alicia Dunn, whom he married in 1978.

The couple returned to the United States in the early ’80s, and Rob worked for five years as associate publisher of Pacific Northwest magazine in Seattle. After moving to Florence, Oregon, the couple purchased Oregon Coast magazine and added other publications, including Northwest Travel, to the mix. Their Mile-by-Mile Guide to the Oregon Coast continues to be a popular guide.

Upon traveling to India, Rob fell in love with the people and the food. He returned home and with his new friends, Praveen and Suji Kumar, started Oregon Technologies, which built the extensive website India9.com. Also while in India, he informally adopted a young man, Anan Jose, helping him to finish college and get a job. Rob had a penchant for helping others, especially through education, and liked helping young people find their paths in life. He developed two successful internet sites, OHWY.com and U-S-History.com, which is often recommended as a resource for students. As a member of the Kiwanis, he strived to establish a nonprofit childcare center in Florence.

He is survived by his wife, Alicia; three daughters, Chelsea Spooner ’92, Jennifer Hauge, and Jaci Spooner; two grandchildren, Stephen Hauge and Andalusia Yandell; and sister, Linda Spooner Humphrey (Rusty) of Grapeview.

Appeared in Reed magazine: June 2016

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