‘Do not go gentle into that good night’: Students, Family, and Colleagues Mourn Professor Bob Tufts

By: Molly Meisels  |  October 17, 2019
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By Molly Meisels, Editor in Chief

On October 4th, Bob Tufts, Clinical Assistant Professor at YU’s Sy Syms School of Business and assistant coach for the YU baseball team, passed away from procedural complications relating to his multiple myeloma. According to his Twitter account, which has been documenting his 10-year journey battling cancer, Professor Tufts, at 63 years old, “went peacefully…with his wife and daughter by his side.” 

The day before he passed, his daughter, Abigail Tufts, posted an update on Twitter about his condition, which was declining. The tweet concluded with a note to her father, with lines from Dylan Thomas’ poem: “Do not go gentle into that good night/Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” 

Before teaching business strategy, entrepreneurship, and sports management at YU, Professor Tufts was a Major League Baseball relief pitcher for the San Francisco Giants and Kansas City Royals and worked on Wall Street. He taught at YU while fighting cancer and fighting for others suffering from rare medical conditions. His wife, Suzanne Israel Tufts, said that not only did Professor Tufts co-found the non-profit My Life is Worth It, which advocates for treatments which would cure diseases, but he “personally counseled dozens of people battling multiple myeloma… He helped them face their deepest fears and obtain the care best for them and their families.” Miram Schloss, President of the Sy Syms Student Council on the Beren Campus, corroborated this statement. His counseling extended to his work on the Wilf and Beren campuses, with students remembering him as more than a teacher. Schloss said, “Professor Tufts was aware of his impact on people, and wanted to empower the students in his classroom. He gave pep talks about women in business and shared [the] best practices to demonstrate competence and dedication in the workforce.”

When news of Professor Tuft’s death reached YU students and alumni, statements acknowledging his character, teaching ability, and strength were posted on social media. Information and updates about his funeral and shiva (Jewish week-long period of mourning) were shared widely on Facebook. Students were urged to attend. 

On October 10th, Chayim Mahgerefteh, President of the Sy Syms Student Council on the Wilf Campus, posted a Google Form in the YU Marketplace Facebook group with the following message: “Last week the YU community lost a dear and beloved professor, Bob Tufts…Pay tribute to Professor Tufts by sharing a thought or story about his impact on your YU Experience….” The anecdotes and fond memories students remember will be shared with his family. “Professor Tufts was a huge asset to Yeshiva University and his passing is a very unfortunate loss. He was friendly and genuinely cared about his students’ success,” Mahgerefteh told the Observer.

YU alumni cite Professor Tufts’ classes as those which most inspired them during their college experience. Rebekah Khakshoor, SSSB ’17, had him four times, starting in her freshman year and ending with her final semester’s capstone class. She said, “In my experience, Professor Tufts’ classes were different. He challenged me…He taught me to think differently and not restrict my views to those within my bubble…I’ve never seen a professor so dedicated in teaching women how to prepare for the business world or how to enter the ‘boys club’ of sports marketing…Thank you for exemplifying what a professor should be. Thank you for teaching me to fight for what’s important. To think critically.”

His family wishes to extend his legacy of fighting for what’s important through fundraising. Their Go-Fund Me page, “Team BT — cancer care costs; keep BTs legacy alive” has raised over $26,000 so far. The proceeds will go to cover the expenses of Professor Tufts’ 10-year treatment and the continued funding of My Life is Worth It. The money raised will ensure that the advocacy work he began during his lifetime will continue on and serve as another one of his lasting legacies. 

May Professor Bob Tufts’ memory be a blessing. 

 

Photo: Bob Tufts teaching at Yeshiva University.

Photo Source: YU News 

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