In Memorium

Roberta J. Park (July 15, 1931 – December 5, 2018)

Roberta J. Park was born on July 15, 1931 in Oakland, California, the daughter of Robert Donald and Grace E. (Faulkes) Park. She earned an AB degree from the University of California, Berkeley (1953); a Master of Arts from The Ohio State University (1955); and Doctor of Philosophy from the University of California (1970). She was an Instructor at The Ohio State University from 1955-1956; a teacher in the Oakland (California) Public Schools, 1956-1959; and a supervisor and then professor, at the University of California, Berkeley, 1959-1994. She was inducted into the National Academy of Kinesiology in 1979 (Fellow #261), was President from 1990-1991, and won the Hetherington Award in 1996.  From 1982-1992, she was Chair of the Department of Physical Education, which then became the Department of Human Biodynamics in (1995), merging in 1997 with the Department of Integrative Biology.

Robbie, as she was known by her close friends and colleagues, was a passionate scholar in the field of sport history with a specialty in the history of health exercise and physical education in the 18th and 19th centuries. She edited a number of seminal books and monographs and published at least one hundred articles in scientific journals (and another sixty in proceedings, abstracts, book reviews and other journals) including the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (RQES), the Journal of Sport History (JSH), Quest, British Journal of Sport History, The International Journal of Sport History, and the Canadian Journal of History of Sport and Physical Education (now Sport History Review). She delivered lectures and research presentations in all parts of the world. Her research output is truly outstanding and her extensive work on embodiment, sport, health and physical practices in historical context is widely admired.

Roberta was a lifelong proponent of physical education and worked tirelessly at the University and in various professional organizations to promote the field. She was a fellow of the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education (inducted 1979), serving as President of that organization (1990-91); fellow of the British Society for Sports History; Vice President of the International Association for the History of Sport and Physical Education (1989); President of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education; and Vice-President of the International Association for the History of Sport and Physical Education. She was also on the editorial boards of numerous journals including JSHInternational Journal for the History of Sport and Physical Education, and the Journal of Physical Education and Recreation and held editorial positions for RQES, Quest and The Association for the Anthropological Study of Play. 

Roberta was the recipient of countless awards recognizing her outstanding and extensive contribution to the field. Among the awards the D.B. Dill Historical Lecture, American College of Sports Medicine; The Reet Howell Memorial Address, Australian Society for Sport History; the Distinguished Scholar Award, National Association for Physical Education in Higher Education; the Alliance Scholar, American Alliance for Health and Physical Education; International Sport History Scholar Award; and Seward Staley Address, North American Society for Sport History.

During her retirement, Dr. Park never wavered from her strong stance on the importance of exercise and sports for children and everyone else. She came to her campus office every day, swam in Hearst pool at noon, and spent the afternoon with her research. She was a force of nature, never missing an opportunity to educate anyone willing to listen to the attributes of staying active, and the many benefits to the mind and society as a whole. Roberta J. Park was a gifted scholar, a generous mentor, and a wonderful, supportive friend to many. She will be greatly missed.