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Remembering Beloved Former Teacher and Coach Don Robert

Jim Norman

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of former faculty member Donald G. Robert, Sr. P ’82, ’83, ’84, who died peacefully at his home in Coconut Creek, Florida, on Saturday, November 5, 2022. Don was a beloved member of the Canterbury family as a teacher, coach, mentor, and colleague.

Don grew up in Holyoke, Massachusetts, where he found his love of family, friendship, and athletics. He quickly rose to football fame while attending American International College. In 1963, Don signed his first-year contract to play for the Springfield Acorns of the Atlantic Coast Pro Football League. He was named the Most Valuable Lineman that year but, despite a significant offer to stay on as a traveling coach/player, he made the decision to be at home with his family.

Don began his career as an educator at East Catholic High School in Manchester, Connecticut, and through his network of friends and family was presented with an opportunity to move to New Milford, Connecticut, to teach and coach at Canterbury School. He accepted, and the next 18 years are forever ingrained in our School’s proud history.

From 1967 to 1984, Don was an esteemed fixture on the hilltop, admired by students, athletes, and colleagues alike. He taught French and coached Football, Wrestling, and Baseball. Don was extremely proud of leading his 1970 wrestling team to an undefeated season and multiple New England championships through the years. He also enjoyed coaching his son Don, Jr. to an undefeated football season in 1980. Don, Sr. was twice a Canterbury Athletics Hall of Fame inductee—once as a coaching member of that ’80 football team and a second time in 2017 when he was honored personally for his unprecedented accomplishments as Wrestling Head Coach.

At his most recent induction ceremony, Don was lauded as a coach whose “biggest success was seen in the extraordinary growth of the young students he helped to shape and inspire” and who was “responsible for creating a wrestling legacy that left an indelible mark on each of the young men he impacted.”

In June 1984, the Robert family moved to Boca Raton, Florida, where Don was accepted into the Broward County Sheriff's Office Academy and worked as a deputy for 10 years. While in Florida, Don also coached the Cardinal Gibbons High School football team in Ft. Lauderdale. After a remarkable career spanning more than five decades, Don retired from coaching at the age of 82. 

When he was not teaching or coaching, Don was an avid softball player, playing four times a week. He and his wife Barbara were also devoted members of St. Joan of Arc Church in Boca Raton, where they sang in the choir from 1984–2019. Don was a Miami Dolphins season ticket holder and loved tailgating at and attending University of Miami football games.

Don Robert was preceded in death by his loving wife Barbara, his parents Rose and Armand, and his sister Claire. He is survived by his three children—Don, Jr. ’82; Frances ’83; and Stephen ’84—and his precious granddaughters Olivia and Juliet, as well as brother George and wife Carla and many nieces and nephews.

We hope you will join us in celebrating Don’s life and in keeping his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers.

Don’s funeral arrangements are as follows:

Celebration of Life
Sunday November 13, 2022
Noon–5:00 PM (service at 3:00 PM)
Tallowwood Isle Clubhouse
6463 NW 32nd Avenue
Coconut Creek, Florida 33073

Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at www.forestlawnnorth.com for the Robert family.