Obituary for Robert Nicholas Vidulich
Bob Vidulich was the person to go to with questions. How did Beethoven lose his hearing? Which flies work best in different trout streams? Why do men have nipples? Is a clove of garlic the same as a head of garlic? When they were young, his children thought he knew everything. When they got older, they understood the truth: Bob was ferociously curious. Because he devoted his life to learning, he became the family’s armchair Jeopardy! super champ, the pinch hitter in every trivia game, the go-to man for knowledge.
Though he was a psychologist by training, Bob had the confidence and patience to teach himself a wide range of new skills. He became adept at constructing sound systems, making furniture, researching family genealogy, growing roses, and framing works of art. Bob had a life-long interest in human rights and made a point to take his children to see Dr. King speak in Memphis in 1968. He also loved watching and talking about sports (especially Tiger Basketball). He was an avid trout fisherman who tied his own flies and taught many friends to tie them, too. He had an intense interest in many things (he never called them “hobbies”), some for short periods and some for his entire life. Nothing lasted longer than his love of chamber music and cooking. His crème caramel was a thousand times better than what you’ll find in France.
Born in Frankfort, New York, on November 2, 1929, Robert Nicholas Vidulich was the son of a railway engineer father from Croatia and a home-maker mother. He went into the Air Force after high school and spent three years stationed in Japan, an experience that inspired a passion for travel. When he returned to the United States, he took full advantage of the G.I. Bill, completing his B.A. at Hartwick College and then earning both an M.A. and PhD in psychology from Michigan State. He taught for eight years at LSU before being recruited in 1966 by Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) to chair the Department of Psychology and establish its doctoral program. He taught there for more than two decades before retiring.
During the late 1950s and ’60s, Bob and his first wife, Barbara, raised three sons, Doug, Marc, and John. In 1970, he met Diane Sachs, the great love of his life, and they spent more than 50 joyful years together. Together they explored Europe, Asia, and Africa and loved rambling through the Rockies. After setting up their tent at the edges of trout streams, Bob would fish and Diane would sit in the shade and read novels. They spent many summers in the mountains of Colorado, but Memphis remained their home.
Bob leaves behind a large and loving family, including six children—Doug Vidulich (Pat), Marc Vidulich (Ginny), John Vidulich (Sarah), Lynne Sachs (Mark), Dana Sachs (Todd), and Ira Sachs (Boris)—twelve grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. In his last year, poor health kept Bob at home, but, even at the age of 93, he continued to study cookbooks for delicious recipes to prepare for Diane. On Monday, he baked Challah for her and on Tuesday he made cinnamon rolls. He died the next morning, on Wednesday, December 28, 2022. We miss him deeply.
Donations in Bob’s memory can be made to MIFA, the Church Health Center, or the charity of the donor’s choice.
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