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Professor emeritus of Civil War history Bob Kerby dies at 86

| Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Robert Kerby, professor emeritus of history, died Wednesday of a long illness, the University announced Monday. He was 86.

Kerby, who taught at Notre Dame for 26 years, was well-known and endeared for his history courses on the Civil War, which he taught in the Main Building.

Earning both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history from Notre Dame, Kerby served in the Air Force after graduation, where he received many military awards during his service in Southeast Asia.

Kerby earned a doctorate degree from Columbia University in 1969 before joining the Notre Dame faculty in 1972. He worked in the history department until 1998.

Kerry Temple, editor of Notre Dame Magazine, said Kerby’s class was a “must-take course” for students. Temple — whose office was near Kerby’s classroom for years — remembers vivid stories of Civil War battles and “intimate portraits” of the individuals from the time period.

Temple also described detailed drawings of maps and battlefields that Kerby would post outside his classroom for those walking down the Main Building to marvel at.

“He was a storyteller who knew even minute details of the war and made it more real than could be found in any text or history book,” Temple said.

Kerby is survived by Mary, his wife of 63 years, two children and five grandchildren.

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