Tribute

Robert “Bob” Wick, BFA ’57

March 27, 1935 – January 13, 2022

 

Transforming Grief into Gift

Robert “Bob” Wick, BFA ’57It never took long, once you were pulled into a conversation with Bob Wick, to feel changed—to feel inspired by his creativity and care, touched by his generosity of spirit. Bob Wick had that effect on people, especially on every student and young poet he met.

Out of the unspeakable loss of his son, Stanley, and his brother Walter’s son, Tom—who died in separate car accidents—Bob and Walt created the Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Scholarship for Kent State students in 1984. Over time, the seed of that initial generosity grew, through passionate engagement and financial contributions, transforming their grief into the gift of the Wick Poetry Center.

I first met Bob and Walter Wick in 1994 at the Wick Poetry Center’s 10th anniversary celebration. I had just won Wick’s Ohio Chapbook Prize for a collection of poems that gave voice to my childhood grief over my mother’s death. Maggie Anderson, the center’s founding director, seated me between Bob and Walter during a celebratory lunch. I was immediately struck by the knowledge and energy both men showed for their different passions. Walter was a bibliophile who loved language and to play with words. Bob pulled out a paper napkin and started sketching a house. He said he was often at a loss for words and instead thought visually. And he told me about a teacher in Kent State’s art department who had inspired his passion for sculpture.

Bob loved to talk with students. He would share his passion for creating what he called “living bronze sculpture”—and then would listen to them, drawing out their interests in any form of creative expression. Each summer he and his wife, Estellean, opened their beautiful home in the Mule Mountains outside of Bisbee, Arizona, to a group of six to eight Kent State students for a weeklong writing workshop. The couple opened their hearts as well, each night gathering with the students around the dinner table for delicious food and creative, far-ranging conversation.

Blending his interest in Eastern philosophy and religion with Western science, Bob fed the holy with his art. His living bronze sculptures (including the stunning “Seated Earth” in the Wick Poetry Park) remain a creative expression of his belief in the interconnectedness of all things. One summer he showed a group of students at his home how he planted cactus and desert trees in the pockets of soil he placed in his sculptures. “Until you can grow a tree from your own heart,” he told them, “you’ll never understand the oneness of all things.”

Bob’s heart was large, his spirit limitless—he was always open to the curious and questing student, always open to new growth. He never stopped his own exploration. Several months before he died, he told me on the phone that he felt as productive as he had ever been. Bob was a living poem, his creative and caring life a work of art.

Thanks to Bob and Walter’s vision and generosity, the Wick Poetry Center remains deeply rooted in our community and continues to be nourished by the passionate engagement of their children and by so many others. As a vital, living program, our outreach keeps their gift in motion, transforming the lives of students and community members, welcoming all into the ever-expanding Wick family of poets.


David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center

Share your story about Bob Wick or make a gift in his memory.

“Seated Earth,” a living bronze sculpture by Bob Wick, is a focal point of the Wick Poetry Park on the Kent Campus.

Walter and Bob Wick stand in front of the “Seated Earth” sculpture in the Wick Poetry Park.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 18, 2022 08:46 AM
UPDATED: Tuesday, May 21, 2024 09:58 PM
WRITTEN BY:
David Hassler