Obituary: Robert J. Myers

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=4]

March 8, 2012 – Robert J. Myers, 77, of Fairfield, Connecticut and formerly of New York City died on February 14, 2012. He was born on December 31, 1934 in Grand Rapids, Michigan to the late Helen Oleson Myers and Charles Myers. Bob was the quintessential Renaissance Man who measured success not by fame or profit but by having integrity and by the pleasure and challenges of his endeavors. By that definition, he was a tremendously successful man in each of his careers.
His formal training as a bio-chemist began informally at age 10 with a chemical laboratory in the family basement and as a teenaged Certified Pharmacist’s Apprentice. When he was 13 an elderly man in Grand Rapids showed him a box of coins. That day he bought his first coin, a bronze of Augustus, and paid less than a dollar for it. Bob studied biochemistry at Indiana University supporting himself by starting a coin shop offering ancient and foreign coins. He joined the Army where he was the official Signal Corps photographer. Because of his expertise in bio-lab work, Cornell Medical College brought him to New York to do medical research until the mid 1970s.

All this time he was building an extensive library on numismatics and ancient art. In his “spare” time, he appeared in Off Broadway productions. Bob Myers became an internationally recognized and respected dealer/appraiser of ancient coins and antiquities. He held his own auctions and obtained an auctioneer’s license. Calling auctions in three languages in Switzerland was a challenge. Under his own name he issued 13 catalogues of ancient coins and antiquities. He was the author of several journal articles, prepared appraisals and was, on occasion, called by the IRS as expert witness.
In the late ’70s he opened a food/fashion photography studio in Manhattan. In 1985 Bob became interested in sailing and joined the Penfield Sail & Power Squadron in Fairfield, CT serving as Commander. He loved sailing Long Island Sound in his 32′ yawl, “Njörd”.

Robert Myers was a man of exceptional generosity, intelligence and wit, the combination of which was irresistible. He had that rare quality of making everyone feel like royalty, tapping into their interests which by reason of his all-embracing knowledge were his as well. He was passionately devoted to his children and grandchildren, always seeing them as people, not just kids. They were adoringly enthralled in discussions of spiders or starfish, in beating grandpa at chess, handling ancient coins or learning to tie shoelaces in the “weird” Myers’ double loop.
He is survived by his life partner of 36 years, Rita Ortiga Waterman to whom he wrote, “You are half of my life and all of my love”; brothers Richard (Diane), and Jim (Nicole); children Charles Myers and Gina DeVries (Doug); daughter-in-law Nancy Lynn Myers; grandchildren Ty (Shannon), Brad (Marisol), Sarah (Aaron), Andy and Derek; great-grandchildren Brooklyn, Jaxon, Piper, Britney and Stephanie; nephews Anthony and Benjamin; former wife Patsy Downs. Private arrangements by Lesko & Polke Funeral Home, Fairfield, CT. To sign an online register, please visit A celebration of Robert Myers’ life will be held at a later date.

A personal statement by George F. Kolbe of Kolbe & Fanning:

Robert J. Myers may not have been a close personal friend but he was an esteemed one. I would have first met Bob in the late 1970s at a New York coin convention, likely the New York International. Over the years, Bob always stopped by during the convention to say hello and to engage in pleasant conversation. He and I would run into each other at various other coin conventions and auction sales, both in the U.S. and in Europe, where his ability to seamlessly call auctions in several languages was a decided asset. Bob also regularly participated in my numismatic book auctions, adding to his already comprehensive library of works on ancient numismatics when, on occasion, he found one of a small number of works not already accessioned.

In September 2010, Kolbe & Fanning were honored to sell Bob’s numismatic and archeological library, which was issued in the style of his well known series of ancient coin auction sales. The catalogue testifies to the breadth and depth of his library and his charming account of “A Numismatic Life” appearing therein modestly touches on his many interests and accomplishments.

Bob was a gentleman, always proper though not without a keen sense of humor. It was always a joy to be in his company. When David Fanning and I visited Bob in early 2010 to pack his library, my admiration grew. Though suffering from extreme back pain at the time, Bob was helpful throughout and stoically accepted his burden. It was there that David and I met perhaps his greatest asset, his partner Rita Waterman, whose devotion to Bob was complete.

While at Bob’s NYC apartment, I admired a lovely, large medieval manuscript leaf. Bob insisted that I accept it as a gift and it now hangs on my wall. I think of Bob when I pass it and always will.

George F. Kolbe
February 2012