Robinson Allen Grover, Philosophy Professor

Feb. 15, 1936 - March 28, 2015
Robinson Allen Grover, Feb. 15, 1936 - March 28, 2015

Robinson Allen Grover, a philosopher, teacher, and patron of the arts who split his time between East Hampton and West Hartford, Conn., died of myelodysplastic syndrome on March 28 at the Reservoir, a hospice in West Hartford. His family said he never complained about his illness, “calmly showing us all how to go forward with honesty, dignity, and grace.” He was 79.

Mr. Grover and his wife, Nancy Dow Grover, took over a house on Apaquogue Road in East Hampton 20 years ago that had once been the carriage house on the property next door, which is known as Grey Gardens. The house had been in his family since 1962, and after renovating it, his wife said, he was delighted to spend as much time there as he could. He joined the board of the East Hampton Beach Preservation Society, which helps finance the study of the beach’s ecology, 15 years ago. “He cared very deeply about East Hampton,” Mrs. Grover said.

A supporter of the visual and performing arts, Mr. Grover supported the Bridgehampton Chamber Music Festival. He served on the boards of the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and Real Art Ways, and he was a member of the Dean’s Council at the School of Art at Yale University. He and his wife collected contemporary photography.

Born on Feb. 15, 1936, in New York, Mr. Grover went to the Buckley School and spent time at his family’s farm in Kent, Conn. His father, Allen Grover, was a journalist who wrote for Time, was an editor of Fortune, and became vice president of Time Inc. His mother, Beatrice Beard Grover, was an accomplished artist who was known for medical illustrations. They, too, spent time in the Apaquogue Road house.  

Mr. Grover graduated from Deerfield Academy in 1954 and Yale University in 1958 with a degree in philosophy. He studied at Universitat Munchen in Munich, Germany, and received master’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Brown University in 1968. He also received a master’s degree from Yale Law School in 1976.

He began teaching ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of law, and philosophy of religion at the University of Connecticut in 1964, and retired after 35 years. He was a specialist on the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes and was instrumental in creating an exhibition and symposium on John Brown, the 19th-century abolitionist. He also served as director of the Torrington Regional Campus of Connecticut University from 1980 to ’86.

In addition to his wife of 35 years, Mr. Grover is survived by two daughters, Ann Percy Sargent of West Hartford, Conn., and Dana Percy Plunkett of Sudbury, Mass. He is also survived by three grandchildren, who called him Bonson, and a sister, Loraine Grover of Tucson.

Burial was private. A celebration of Mr. Grover’s life will be held in the Avery Court of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main Street in Hartford, Conn., on May 16 at 5 p.m. Those wishing to make gifts in his memory may do so to St. Francis Hospital Cancer Center, 114 Woodland Street, Hartford 06105, or online at stfranciscare.org.