Obituary: Robert James Niemi, PhD 1955-2022 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Robert James Niemi, PhD 1955-2022

Saint Michael's College professor enriched the lives of students and inmates through education

Published October 3, 2022 at 6:00 a.m.
Updated October 3, 2022 at 6:21 p.m.

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Emeritus professor Robert “Bob” Niemi died on September 17, 2022, at the age of 67 after a long, valiant struggle with pancreatic cancer. He was born on April 17, 1955, in Fitchburg, Mass., to Alfred and Anita Niemi.

A graduate of Fitchburg High School, Bob earned a BA in English from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 1977. He earned an MS degree in library science from Columbia University in 1978, an MS in English literature from the University of Massachusetts in 1988 and a doctorate in English in 1990 from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Bob was director of technical services of the Leominster Massachusetts Public Library and the Western Massachusetts Regional Library System from 1979 to 1983.

Bob was a tenured, full professor at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., teaching American literature, film and American studies. Bob served as the English Department chair for several years and earned the 2012 Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Award. In 2022, at the academic convocation, Bob was recognized for his academic contribution to the college. In his 32 years at St. Michael’s, Bob taught over 4,000 students and enriched the lives of inmates, teaching film courses through the Vermont Department of Corrections.

Bob was an active member of the Center for Working Class Studies in Youngstown, Ohio. A student of American popular culture, Bob presented numerous papers at the Northeast Popular Culture Association conferences, hosting two at St. Michael’s and serving twice as NEPCA’s president. Bob presented at over 60 literature and film conferences throughout the world.

Bob was a prolific writer, publishing seven acclaimed nonfiction books on film and popular culture topics and dozens of critical biographical essays.

An avid book collector, reader and talented artist, Bob enjoyed hiking, photography, oil painting and linocut artwork. Bob married Connie Dufour, the love of his life and a devoted and loving caregiver. Bob and Connie enjoyed spending time together and taking memorable trips to New Orleans, Mexico, Edinburgh, Lisbon and Paris.

Bob was predeceased by his parents and sister, Karen. He regretfully leaves behind Connie; his son, Alex, and his partner, Cora; two brothers, Tom (Anne) and Al (Jane) Niemi; nieces; relatives in Finland; and many friends. A celebration of Bob’s life is planned for a future date.

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