Robert returned home to Boston (I think) before I returned to my home in upstate New York. We corresponded by mail for a while. I remember him writing with intense excitement and trepidation about playing the Beethoven First Piano Concerto with the Boston Pops Orchestra conducted by Arthur Fiedler. He had also decided to pursue a graduate degree in music at the New England Conservatory of Music. Somehow, we stopped writing to each other. I am now in the process of searching for his letters. I saved most of the letters I received during my college years, especially when I was living in Vienna and my last year in college.
So, I turned to the internet. I remembered what college he'd attended so they were my first contact. I sent their alumni office an e-mail, explaining that I wanted to contact Robert, and asked them if they had contact information for him. The answer came back: he was one of their "missing" alumni. If I found out anything about him, could I share it with them? Wow.
Next I did a search on obituaries in Massachusetts for his name. Several came up, but in order to access their texts, I had to pay a fee, even at the Massachusetts state office that keeps death records. I've done all sorts of Google searches on his name -- obituaries or any mention. The problem is he had a very common name, and I don't think I ever knew his middle name. A middle name or initial could narrow the search. Right now, I narrow it by age -- he was my age -- and that he was a pianist.
As the days have passed, I've been thinking of joining Ancestry.com just to get the obituary information on him. I believe that he died long before the internet became such a force, and from previous experience, it can be difficult to find something pre-1985 or so. I am open to suggestions!
Robert is one of the few people whom I remember vividly from my year in Vienna as a student, but I don't have a photo of him. He was an interesting guy. I think a part of me hopes that there's been a mistake, and he's actually alive and well. It's painful to think that we will not meet again.....
July 26 Addendum: I have found Robert's family! It took digging through my saved letters and finding that I'd saved only one letter that he'd sent and using the address on it to track down his parents. Actually, his mother had died last year and I was able to find her obituary and that listed everyone still living. I plan to contact his oldest brother who still lives in Boston.
Also, I learned that he died in November, 2008, on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Nothing about how or why, though. Perhaps his brother can fill in the blanks.
I'm incredibly happy to have found his family, but it doesn't really bring back Robert. Maybe it will provide some measure of closure for my grieving.....