In Memoriam

From Rugs to Writing
Robert T. Galkin ’49, a man for all seasons

January 18th, 2023
Robert T. Galkin ’49

Robert T. Galkin ’49, of Cranston, R.I.; July 13. He entered Brown but was soon drafted. After military service and a semester at Oxford, he completed his Brown degree, then joined his father’s home furnishings business, Natco Products— at the time a regional firm focused on the Northeast—in the sales department. But after he married Wini Blacher ’52, the husband and wife team traveled the country developing new markets and hiring more sales reps to cover them. Their trip turned Natco into a national company selling to most major chain stores. At Natco, Robert worked with his brother Warren ’51 for more than 70 years; the company continues to thrive today under a fourth generation. Its success helped support Bob and Warren in a tradition of service. As individuals and through their family foundations, the brothers  provided major contributions to education, health, and cultural institutions throughout Rhode Island; the Preservation Society of Newport County recognized them for their volunteerism. Robert was active in Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rhode Island and a board member of Progress for Providence, serving inner-city underprivileged groups. He worked with the Saratoga Museum Foundation to bring a retired aircraft carrier to Newport as a family attraction, providing the space needed to house the exhibit rent free. He helped with the rescue of artifacts from the USS Cabot, a World War II aircraft carrier; he supported the restoration of the Ted Williams airplane, a rare jet flown in combat in Korea by the baseball legend; was a patron of the 2004 Cold War at Sea Conference; and lent his support to the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame, which in 2017 renamed one of its awards in recognition of Robert and Warren. The Galkin Award is given annually to someone whose contribution to aviation included an advancement of the field.

Volunteerism wasn’t Robert’s only passion. A philatelist, he donated his stamp collection to the Brown University Library in 1990, including stamps from an encyclopedic selection of countries, ranging from the beginnings of global stamp production in the 1840s through 1990. He previously donated various postal history materials, including his collection of first day covers.

After the death of his wife in 2015, Robert embarked on a new career. At age 89, drawing on his wealth of diverse experiences, he began writing—both to entertain readers and to satisfy his own wanderlust, his family says. Over the course of six years, he completed 24 novels, six screenplays, and, says his daughter, “came close twice to making a Hollywood film.” He formed Galkin Entertainment to publish the books and manage the movie rights.

Finally, Robert stayed involved with Brown, serving on a class gift committee and as a reunion activities chair at his 60th reunion. He is survived by three daughters and their spouses, including Ellen Galkin Kenner ’75; six grandchildren, including Naomi Kenner ’02; eight great-grandchildren; brother Warren ’51; and sister-in-law Nancy
Blacher Shuster

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