Robert Regan, English

Robert “Bob” Regan, a professor emeritus of English at Penn, died of heart failure at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on July 5. He was 86 years old.

Dr. Regan was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, and raised in Shreveport, Louisiana. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English literature from Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport in 1951. He was awarded a scholarship to Harvard, where he received a master’s degree, also in English literature, in 1952.

He joined the Navy and served in the Korean War and later joined the Navy Reserve, earning the rank of commander. He served in Vietnam in the early 1960s.

After the Korean War, he returned to Centenary College to teach and began volunteering in the civil rights movement with his mother. They registered people to vote, and Dr. Regan encouraged activism among his students. He then enrolled in a doctoral program at the University of California at Berkeley and taught at the University of Virginia from 1963-67. He earned his PhD in American literature in 1965 and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship two years later.

He joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. During his 30 years at Penn, he served twice as the undergraduate chair of the English department.

Dr. Regan is the author of Unpromising Heroes, Mark Twain and His Characters and editor of Poe: A Collection of Critical Essays. He also served as a consultant on a PBS documentary about Edgar Allan Poe. He wrote articles for publications including Virginia Quarterly Review and Nineteenth-Century Fiction.

In addition to his wife, Mary Katherine Hester; he is survived by his son, Christopher; his step-son, David Jeanclos; two daughters, Alison and Amelia; and his first wife, Carole Ann Bennett.