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Robert Joseph Kibbee Jr. age 77 of Mecklenburg passed away at home surrounded by family on Tuesday, May 31, 2022, after a yearlong battle with mesothelioma.
Robert, Bob, or “Boj”, was born in Baltimore, Maryland on April 9, 1945, a son of the late Katherine (Kirk) and Robert Joseph Kibbee. Boj’s childhood took him to many parts of the world, from Arkansas to Pakistan. He served in the Navy from 1963 to 1967, before entering academia, where he would remain for his entire career. He was a gifted scholar with a talent for languages and a lifelong quest for learning. His formal education included a B.A. in Classics (Boston University), M.A. in Classics (University of Michigan); and a Masters in Library Sciences (Syracuse University), which led to a 35-year career at Cornell University as a Reference Librarian and later a Map & Geospatial Librarian. As a librarian, Boj shared his love of research and encyclopedic knowledge with students and faculty, helping to bring to fruition countless research projects, articles, and books.
When something piqued Boj’s interest, he fully immersed himself in the subject. Over his 77 years, he cultivated such varied pursuits as the study of local history, lichens, cycling, competitive bagpiping, genealogy, historic maps, poetry, and literature. Boj’s enthusiasm was infectious, and he was generous with his knowledge. Those lucky enough to spend time with Boj came to appreciate the parts of life they may not have noticed before.
In retirement, Boj’s interest in maps and census data converged on preserving and sharing local history. As a key member of the History Forge project at The History Center in Tompkins County, he wrote competitive national grants and inspired a cohort of volunteers. The project was honored with the 2021 Preservation Award by Historic Ithaca. Boj also leant his mapping expertise to the Backbone Ridge History group, helping to preserve the history of the land and people of the Finger Lakes area.
Robert is survived by his wife of 48 years, Janet McCue; two sons, Matthew R. Kibbee (Elizabeth “Tobi” Hines) and Andrew J. (Rachel) Kibbee; two grandchildren, Guy W. and Lorna M. Kibbee; brother, Douglas A. (Jo) Kibbee; and many nieces, nephews, and cousins. In addition to his parents, Robert was preceded in death by his sister, Katherine Kibbee Paterson.
Burial will be held privately for family in the Mecklenburg Cemetery. A ceremony in celebration of Boj’s life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks those that would like to make a contribution in Boj’s memory to kindly consider The History Forge Project at The History Center in Tompkins County, 110 North Tioga Street, 204 Suite A, Ithaca, NY 14850.