On Saturday, June 22, J. Cooper Robb of Newtown, loving husband of Karl Carter, passed away from laryngeal cancer at age 59. Among a long list of accomplishments and accolades, Robb taught theater and communication at Bucks County Community College.
His colleague Dr. William Ford is a professor of psychology at BCCC. Ford responded to an inquiry from this news organization about Robb’s time at the college.
I had the pleasure of teaching a course on the theme of Self and Identity with Cooper. We took the theme and examined it from the perspectives of the Arts, Psychology and Neuroscience.
Teaching with Cooper was fun; one never knew quite what was going to happen in any class that Cooper directed. Cooper helped students get in touch with aspects of their selves through theater. Students acted out scenes from the play “M. Butterfly” and wrote personal reflections on the themes raised in the play. Cooper drew upon the visual arts, particularly photography to guide students in creating their own self-portrait.
What I remember most about Cooper was his wry sense of humor and his caring for all of his students. He was always extremely patient with his students and extended them every opportunity to do their best work. I learned a lot from teaching with Cooper. He will be missed.
Robb also earned respect as a drama critic and freelance writer. He enjoyed visiting hole-in-the-wall theaters, then reviewing their shows for the Philadelphia Weekly. Robb’s work reviewing plays also extended to the Chestnut Hill Local, Theatermania, and Backstage Magazine.
His husband Karl Carter remains Director Personal and Professional Development at Bucks County Community College. Carter told the Philadelphia Inquirer his husband played a pivotal role in shaping Philly’s theater scene.
“He would go to shows that nobody else would go to, and the next year, they would be the big thing.”
Robb was born in Philadelphia. His passion for theater shone through from an early age, and carried him through life. Robb could boast a bachelor’s degree in theater from Temple University and master’s degree in theater from Villanova University. He also worked as an adjunct professor at Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J. and Thomas Edison State University in Trenton.
Along with his husband, Robb is survived by two brothers, and his parents Lee Cooper van de Velde and Edwin G. Robb.
Arden Theatre will be hosting a memorial service on Saturday, Aug. 3 at 11 a.m. with a private burial. The building is located at 40 North Second St. in Philadelphia.
WBCB’s Courtney Fegley contributed to this report.