Robert Gordon Black ’47, P ’77 – Alumnus of the Year Award 2016
The Alumnus of the Year Award, created in 1966, must be given to an alumnus or a group of alumni. This award is presented to an alumnus who has made an outstanding contribution to his/her alma mater. Such contribution can be that which has had an impact on the school within a relatively short time or perhaps a less dramatic but substantial impact over a long period of time.
Robert Gordon Black has been a loyal and faithful alumnus of Tilton School since his graduation in 1947. His involvement with and commitment to Tilton School spans the decades. Having attended regional events and Alumni Weekend annually, Bob most recently returned to campus this fall to meet with Honors English classes and members of the Tiltonian staff.
An accomplished journalist, Bob’s passion for writing was born on the Hill. He arrived the fall of 1945 and soon thereafter discovered writing and the idea of newspapering. While a student at Tilton, Bob participated in a number of activities including the Tiltonian, Yearbook, Drama and Glee Clubs and as a member or manager of the soccer, ski and track teams.
At Florida Southern College, Bob’s love of journalism expanded and he went on to receive a B.S. in journalism in 1951 before serving the United States Army.
From 1952-1953, during the Korean War, he was a Staff Sergeant and Combat Infantry Squad Leader. Stationed in Tokyo in 1953, he was a sports columnist for the Stars & Stripes, official newspaper of the US Army. After a successful stint in the military, Bob went on to Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he received a M.S. in journalism in 1955.
Bob has been active in journalism and public relations since 1953 when he started as a reporter and sports columnist on Stars and Stripes.
His career since has included public relations positions at Time, Inc.; New York Life Insurance Company; AT&T and the National Council on Aging. Between 1964 and 1974, Bob served in Executive roles within H.A. Bruno & Associates, Swissair and the Super Boat Expo until 1964 when he founded his own public relations and marketing firm, Bob Black & Company, Inc. In 2014, Bob Black & Company, Inc. was named public relations counsel to ClubLink, the Canadian corporation that owns the six golf courses in Sun City Center.
His writing assignments have covered aviation, skiing and boating and he remains an active boating and golf writer today. A former newsman for the Associated press, he was twice called back by the AP to cover major events such as the 1976 Yachting Olympics and the America’s Cup in addition to serving as Deputy Press Chief for the 1984 Yachting Olympic venue.
Bob frequently steps to the editorial side of the fence at the request of the media – and is one of the few public relations professionals to be so invited. He has written and done live radio for NBC, The Associated Press and The Connecticut Radio Network and covered events for many magazines as well as The New York Times, AP, UPI and Agence France Presse.
Bob was the Senior News Editor and Golf columnist for the News of Sun City Center from 2005-2008 and in 2008, he became the local golf and travel columnist for the Sun City Center Sun – a media general newspaper. In 2010, he moved to the SCC Observer as a columnist, a position he filled until 2013. Bob has also written for Juris Doctor; Young Engineer; Connecticut Magazine; Fairfield County; Sports Age CUE; Ski Magazine; Ski Business; Air Transport World; Airport Services and Restaurant Business.
Since 2010, Bob has served as vice president and acting director-in-charge of the Sun City Center Senior Care Corporation, a non-profit organization working toward finding a ‘medical home’ in Sun City Center for its citizens.
In 2015, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of the South Shore (Hillsborough County, Florida) Coalition on Mental Health and Aging and is that group’s public relations chair in addition to continued roles as president of two golf membership associations.
Last January he was named correspondent for South Hillsborough County by the Tampa Bay Times (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). This appointment brought him full circle in newspapering just less than 70 years.
Bob has led an impressive life as a gifted journalist. In 2013 he joined the Tilton School Alumni Council to give back to the place the on the Hill. Bob has been an active member of the council for the past 4 years. Perhaps best known for providing invaluable direction to the Communications Office. Black is always quick to remind us about the ‘old folks’ and provide insight to best practices for communication across generations. He is a familiar face at Alumni Weekend and helps the operation run smoothly by volunteering. As the 1947 Class Ambassador, Bob keeps his classmates informed about what’s happening at Tilton and provides Class Notes for 1845: The Magazine of Tilton School.
Bob’s transformative Tilton Experience is one that he hopes to recreate for others. In addition to sending his only daughter to Tilton, he returned in the fall of 2015 to share his expertise with several English Honors classes and also met with staff of the Tiltonian. He impacted current Tilton School students with the recounting of his days on the Hill and how that experience led him to a life of journalism and to eventually a desire to give back to Tilton.
In his own words, “Old newsmen never die… they just keep scribbling.”
Please join me in welcoming the 2016 Alumnus of the Year, Robert G. Black, Tilton School Class of 1947.