Retirees Association

Robert George Thobaben Sr., 100, Professor of Political Science

Robert Thobaben

Dr. Robert George Thobaben Sr., 100, of Centerville, passed away Thursday, May 16, 2024. 

Robert was born April 3, 1924, in Cleveland to the late George and Edna (Pratt) Thobaben. He joined the US Army, and was stationed in the Pacific, island hopping under the command of Admiral Nimitz until the end of WWII.

Robert earned his bachelor’s degree from Ohio University, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Cincinnati. He taught philosophy and political science at Wright State University for 42 years, and was named Professor of the Year three times. During his time at WSU, he taught 11 years with his son, Robert Jr. This was Dr. Thobaben’s preferred method of teaching, as it gave the students a dual perspective on subjects.

Robert was an accomplished author, penning eight books, two just before his 100th birthday. In one book, he interviewed veterans, asking them why they fight. Is it for their country or for their comrade? 

Robert firmly believed there were no answers, only questions, and would challenge anyone on their thoughts and beliefs. He spent six weeks in the Soviet Union, where he was a part of the Marxist Christian Dialogue, an effort to bridge the gap between Marxism and Christianity.

Robert was a guest speaker at Cambridge University, teaching a course at Clare College. He was also invited to speak at the University of Hong Kong.

In his spare time, Robert loved to sail and race boats, assist his wife, Janet, with the Centerville Historical Society, and discuss the ideas of Spinosa and Socrates. Robert was also a talented musician, playing the trumpet, flugelhorn, piano, and the flute. He was an accomplished philosopher, beloved professor, and proud veteran. Robert will be missed by all who knew and loved him. 

Along with his parents, he is preceded in death by his wife, Janet Thobaben, and sisters, Daphne (Don) Day and Hallie (Russ) Miller. Left to cherish his memory are his sons, Robert (Terri) Thobaben Jr., and Thomas C. (Roxanne) Thobaben; grandchildren, Cordt (Carolyn), Eric (Pam Olenik), Amy (Ethan) Spurr, Chris (Jackie) Thobaben, Nathan (Brighton Hutton) Thobaben, Zebulon (Anne Wilson) Thobaben, Ezra Thobaben, and Harmony (David) Thompson; 14 great-grandchildren, and his dear girlfriend, Susie. 

Family will greet friends Saturday, May 25, from 10 a.m.–noon at Routsong Funeral Home, 81 N. Main St., Centerville. Funeral Services will begin at noon at the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made in Robert’s name to the Centerville Library or the Centerville Historical Society.