David Robert Obituary (1949 – 2022) – Chapel Hill, NC

David Robert
February 5, 1949 – January 10, 2022
Chapel Hill, North Carolina – David Lawrence Robert died peacefully and suddenly at his home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on January 10, 2022, at the age of 72.
Throughout his life, David was a man of quiet generosity. He had an insatiable curiosity and a love of life, embracing culture, art and music of all kinds. He had a true genius for friendship, and wherever he went he made a new friend and left an indelible mark – from Chapel Hill to Beaufort, North Carolina, to Costa Rica. Everyone who met him immediately recognized a friend in his kind, smiling eyes.
David graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. He loved his alma mater and was immersed in the community from an early age as a student, during which time he worked at the bohemian restaurant Harry’s and then made Chapel Hill his lifelong home.
The Chapel Hill music scene held a very special place in David’s heart, as music, in many ways, was his life’s work and passion. For years David was co-owner and manager of Cat’s Cradle, long an influential music venue that launched the careers of many singer-songwriters. David was a true ambassador and advocate for musicians in the community, both as a mentor and funder, doing all he could to promote talented artists and introduce major tours of the 1970s and 1980s. He was also a musician in his own right – a singer-songwriter with numerous albums recorded on his label, Moonlight Records. In 2014, he donated his extensive collection of musical memorabilia and sound recordings to the Southern Folklife Collection at UNC’s Louis Round Wilson Library.
David was a constant presence in the Chapel Hill community. He could be seen on his long daily walks with his faithful four-legged companion, Louis Armstrong, taking winding routes across campus, most notably through the Coker Arboretum and around town to the post office or the Coffee.
The coast held a special place in David’s heart, and for 30 years he owned a second home in Beaufort, North Carolina where he enjoyed surfing, kayaking and hiking the Rachel Carson Reservation. David’s love of the water took him to Costa Rica in the mid 1990’s where he surfed and managed a 50 acre teak plantation. He loved the Tamarindo Bay sunsets and often sang about them. Yet the first coastal town he called home was Biarritz, France, where he spent a year after college, earning his status as a well-known Francophile. He later drew on his experiences there in his 2013 novel Accidental Death in Biarritz.
As many knew, for years David changed his home voicemail every day to include a quote of the day. As cell phones became more popular, he stopped updating his machine on a daily basis, opting instead for this recording: “Hello, today’s message is from Wallace Stevens and reads: “The old brown hen and the old blue sky / Between the two we live and die”. .’ If you have a message, please leave it at tone. Thank you.” Other daily quotes came from authors such as Walker Percy and Mark Twain.
In the fall of 1994, David founded the Dead Mule Club in Chapel Hill, named for his dear friend Jerry Leath (Jake) Mills’ essay, Equine Gothic: The Dead Mule as Generic Signifier in Southern Literature of the 20th Century. Today, this West Franklin Street watering hole is open to anyone who loves good food and drink, merriment and conviviality. His Chapel Hill community was truly his family, and he nurtured those relationships with unconditional love and support.
David was born in Greenwich, Connecticut on February 5, 1949, to Ann McCormick and Lawrence Wood Robert III. He is survived by relatives and countless friends around the world who loved him dearly and cherish his memory.
As a dedicated philanthropist, David has given to numerous charities, most related to the arts and the environment. In remembrance, please send donations to the Coker Arboretum at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, where he walked daily. Address: 100 Old Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27517 | Website: ncbg.unc.edu/visit/coker-arboretum/
A celebration of David Robert’s life will be held in the spring.

Published by & & & from January 22 to January 23, 2022.


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