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Yale 62

Robert Smith Meehan

April 28, 1940 – January 28, 2024

Born in Stamford, Ct. to John Ryder Meehan and Marie Brown Meehan, Robert (Bob) Meehan matriculated at Yale from Phillips Andover Academy. He resided in Timothy Dwight with Marv Romanoff where he made many friends, majored in History, made the Dean’s List, and held a number of scholarships.

Bob joined Alpha Phi Omega (APO), and the Christian Science Organization (CSO) which he served first as Vice President and Secretary, and then President during his senior year. He earned his varsity numerals as a member of Yale’s heavyweight crew from 1960-62, part of his lifelong commitment to keeping in shape through sports and exercise. Bob was also an excellent swimmer but did not compete for Yale in that sport.

His studies of Chinese, Chinese history and US diplomacy whetted his interest in further studies of the topics at The Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, from which Bob earned an MPA. That led to a career as a US Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for 35 years, with two years out with the Army as Civil Affairs Officer in Vietnam. In his role helping with refugee needs he lived off-base, rose to Captain, and received two Bronze Stars and one Silver for his efforts.

In our 40th Year Class book Bob wrote that he had learned to “accept my avocation is Philanthropy;” building on APO and CSO involvements at Yale, and his Army and USAID work. He joined the Society of Friends and many boards, including Bread for the City and the Mayor’s Emergency Medical Advisory Services Committee and was elected to his Neighborhood Advisory Committee, all in Washington, DC.

From all of those experiences Bob continued “…I’ve learned that I may also have an intuitive ability to sort through issues for the big picture…to micro-level stuff.” “My intuition appears to work best when I combine zeroing in on the issues that stifle communities and institutions from taking transforming actions with solutions that accept the risk of failure.” Bob’s recognition of his avocation resulted in a second “career” of a life dedicated to peace and social justice issues.

Dixie Carroll, an Andover and Yale classmate and Washington friend, worked with him on an artistic renovation of Bob’s house that Bob had conceived. Dixie writes: “I thought it representative of him because it was a big ambitious project requiring a lot of persistent, hard work.” They also shared an interested in music, Dixie as a Whiff and Bob as an accomplished pianist as Dixie learned […] years later at several concerts he gave.” In our 50th Yearbook Bob noted that he was particularly drawn to Chopin, Debussy and Fats Waller.

Susan Sward Bergman and Bob met on their first day as Management Interns for USAID and married in Manhasset, NY on August 15, 1967. They shared a passion for social justice, but as USAID did not allow for dual career couples serving in the Foreign Service, Susan carried out her work in the civic and social services sectors of Washington, DC. Together they raised Christopher and Alisoun. At the time of Bob’s passing, they had enjoyed participating in the growing life of a granddaughter, Olivia Linck.

A Memorial Service will be held for Bob on May 4, 2024, at the
Quaker Meeting House, 2111 Decatur PL/NW, Washington, DC
It will start at 4 PM and is to be followed a Reception

— John D. Hatch III