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Remembering Village founder Bob Stern


Longtime Village member Bob Stern - one of our Village's original founders - passed away on December 5, 2020. The very first Cleveland & Woodley Park Village meeting was held at the dinner table of Jinny and Bob Stern, and our Village owes much to their great assistance and generous support over the years. Below is Bob's obituary as published in The Washington Post:


Robert Leon Stern died peacefully on December 5, 2020 at age 92. Bob was born in Munich, Germany on January 9, 1928. His father, Frederic Stern, was a partner in a major international art firm and his mother, Alice Stern, was a Belgian citizen. In 1933, when Hitler was rising up against the Jewish people, Bob and his younger brother Andrew attended schools in Switzerland, Belgium, and England. Reunited with their parents in September 1939, the Sterns left Europe on a Cunard ocean liner that managed to evade German submarines as it crossed the Atlantic to New York City. Bob, Andy and their father Frederic, all born in Germany, were "stateless" until they became U.S. citizens in 1944, as did Alice Stern.


Bob graduated from Bronx High School of Science in 1945 and from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1948, which offered an accelerated chemical engineering program for the large number of U.S. veterans returning from Europe. In 1950, he was recruited by the U.S. Army to work in the Utah desert with scientists studying the effects of chemical, biological and radiological weapons which were never used.


After being discharged from the army in 1952, Bob helped open the San Francisco office of Arthur D. Little, a management consulting firm. There he met and married his wife, Virginia, a graduate of Stanford University. He later joined an acoustic consulting firm, Bolt, Beranek and Newman (BBN) in Cambridge, MA. In 1962, the Kennedy/Johnson Administration recruited him to work for the U.S. Commerce Department in Washington, DC. Among his responsibilities was to coordinate the opening of the new National Bureau of Standards facility in Gaithersburg, MD. In another post, he served at the National Academy of Engineering. He later worked for the chief scientist of Xerox Corporation in Stamford, Connecticut (1970-74). He then returned to Washington in 1975. For many years, Bob was a Fellow and the Secretary of Section P, the Industrial Science section of the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and also traveled, with his wife Jinny, to establish the art collection of the AAAS headquarters on New York Avenue and 13th St., NW. In the 1980s and 1990s, he worked as an independent consultant in science and technology policy. He would stay in Washington for the rest of his life.


In the 1980s, Bob was an officer, and later, president of the Cleveland Park Club, a neighborhood clubhouse with a swimming pool in Northwest Washington. With other past presidents, he helped save its historic 1923 building so it could be used for dance classes, karate lessons, summer camps, adult drama groups, swimming lessons, and private events. Bob was, and Jinny continues to be, long time members of Temple Sinai on Military Road, NW.


In the 1990s, Bob volunteered as a middle school science teacher at the KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) Key Academy on Benning Road SE, the first of many KIPP DC Public Schools.


With his wife he founded the Cleveland & Woodley Park Village for senior citizens, the first organization of its kind in Washington. There are now ten Villages in the greater Washington area, as well as many other locations across the country.


Bob was an avid hiker in the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Italy, New Zealand, Nepal and Bhutan. While in Bhutan, he volunteered as a middle school science teacher in the public schools. In addition, he pursued many interests passionately including food and wine, fine art and photography, vintage Porsche cars, aeronautics, astronomy, computers and other technical devices.


He is survived by his wife of nearly 65 years, Jinny, and his four children, Adam Stern (Tia Rich), Ami S. Gordon (Jonathan), Mark Stern (Carolyn) and Rachel S. Davis (Derek), and seven grandchildren, Sasha, Max, Zachary, Abby, Grace, Anna and Charlie.

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