Robert “Bob” Remis, of Boston and Palm Beach, Fla., was born on September 26, 1929, raised in Swampscott, and passed away peacefully on July 13, 2020 from heart complications.
From a very early age, Bob learned to play piano by ear and continued until right before his death. His love of music continued as an Overseer of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, where he and his wife Ruth (Lubarsky) Remis continued his family’s support. They especially enjoyed the Friday afternoon concerts and he loved analyzing the intricacies of a composition or the phrasing of a particular piece.
This same appreciation and knowledge was a driving force in his dedication to the art world. Bob would roam the galleries of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (where he was a trustee) and feel spiritually renewed. Past Museum Director Malcolm Rogers recalled, “I knew Bob for more than 20 years, and his dedication to the Museum of Fine Arts and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts as Trustee and Governor was an inspiration to me. By nature reserved and discreet, he was nevertheless passionate and partisan, and, in continuing his parents’ tradition of enlightened philanthropy, gave most generously of his time and money.” The international experience he had through the art world helped to form his own collection and he was working on an exhibition of some of his pieces at the time of his death.
Tufts University became a focal point for Bob and Ruth (class of 1954). They endowed the Remis Sculpture Court and also supported the building of the Music Center. Larry Bacow, past President of Tufts and current President of Harvard said, “Bob Remis was everything that we hope a citizen of Tufts would be. He was exceptionally accomplished professionally but equally engaged in the broader community. He was generous with his time, wisdom and resources not just to Tufts but to countless institutions throughout the city of Boston. Each of these organizations is better today because of Bob. He was as modest as he was successful, a true gentleman in every sense of the word. And he was also the head of a family that sent three generations to Tufts, so far. We will all miss him.”
In addition to Tufts, Bob remained close to his alma mater Phillips Andover (class of 1947), where he played football, and Harvard (class of 1951).
For most of his life, Bob’s focus was the leather business. Before attending his senior year at Harvard, Bob spent a year in Puerto Rico working and teaching English to the Spanish speaking foreman at his family’s leather tanning factory. Bob learned the business from the bottom up, eventually rising to President. The corporation bought Beggs & Cobb, which then became the umbrella corporation for divisions of Remis Industries. He purchased Permair, an English specialty company producing a unique leather finishing product which he developed in the United States and later sold. During these professional years, he was a member of the Young Presidents Organization and traveled extensively with Ruth throughout the world for business and pleasure. His business acumen extended to his interest in the stock market and investing where, rather than tout his success, he would be delighted to pass on a good tip.
Beth Israel Hospital (now BIDMC), where Bob was a trustee, had a special place in his heart as well, and he was quick to support the hospital over many decades along with many other charitable endeavors.
Bob was an accomplished athlete throughout his life and excelled in most sports, particularly tennis and golf. Friends would always remark that it was a frequent joy to see Bob with his son and grandson spending an afternoon on the golf course.
The consummate gentleman, Bob never looked for accolades for his accomplishments or generosity; however, his face would light up when he talked of his family. He and Ruth were married for 67 years, and was the beloved father of Richard and daughter in law Pamela, William (deceased) and John (deceased). He was cherished by his grandchildren Jeffrey, Andrew, and Kimberly, and each enjoyed a special relationship with him. He was also a treasured uncle, wonderful friend, and dedicated patron. He was a ceaseless reader and many will miss his passionate recommendations.
Expressions of sympathy can be made to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, 330 Brookline Ave., Boston MA 02215, or Temple Emanu-El, 393 Atlantic Ave., Marblehead, MA 01945. (brezniakfuneraldirectors.com).