Obituary - by Sarah L. Lambert

Robert J. Lambert Jr. of Ithaca, NY, died peacefully at Kendal at Ithaca on August 8, 2014, a few weeks shy of his 87th birthday. Jack, as he was known, was born on August 25, 1927, in Tremont, Indiana, son of the late Robert J. Sr. and Dorothy Lambert. He attended Stivers High School (Class of ’45) served briefly in the army (‘45-‘46) and on the GI bill, came to Cornell (BS, College of Agriculture, Class of ’50.) Here he studied ornithology under Arthur Allen and anthropology under Allan Holmberg. He also studied drawing with Elizabeth Burckmyer and fine arts with Norman Daly. He did his masters at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (’51) and over the next summers did anthropological field work in Peru, Fiji, Jamaica and Cuba. Shortly after completing his masters, he received a letter from Prof. Burckmyer, offering him an instructorship in drawing at Cornell. He accepted the offer and would spend the next 45+ years teaching drawing and watercolor painting in the Freehand Drawing program in the Department of Floriculture and Ornamental Horticulture in the College of Agriculture. In 1955 he met his dear wife Nina who was at Cornell getting her masters in Child Development. They were married in 1956. Jack spent the years from 1959-61 on leave from Cornell and in residence in San Francisco, where Nina did her postdoctoral work (Langley Porter, UCSF) and Jack studied sumi painting with Chiura Obata at the California School of Fine Arts. Returning to Ithaca in 1961, he enjoyed life, teaching, painting and gardening with Nina, creating a beautiful and much-toured rock garden at their home. After retirement, he continued teaching as emeritus, and then informally with a select group, continuing to sketch every day. His wife Nina passed away in 2010, but he is survived by his daughter Sarah L. Lambert and son-in law Michael J. Ward, of Port Jervis, NY. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jack’s memory may be made to Kendal at Ithaca.


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Mr. Lambert was my only art teacher at Cornell (85-89) and was always kind, helpful and very patient with all he taught... He turned one my lesser skilled classmates into a true artist, it was actually incredible to see the transformation that Jack nurtured. A truly inspiration human being. Thanks for teaching me much more than free-hand drawing techniques... You are missed, but your legacy continues!
Tom April 23rd, 2020
I was a landscape architecture major and took one of Jack's classes; maybe it was 1979. Jack always had a pencil and a sketch pad handy in his pocket. His proficiency was remarkable. He would spot something interesting in the landscape, pull out the pencil and pad and sketch spontaneously. He had an affinity for the landscape and the ability to see things in it that were not apparent to me. He was truly an artist and made a big impression on me. My sympathies to Jack's family and friends.
peter s schott August 21st, 2014
I transferred out of a terrible calculus class at Cornell in 1983. Being past the "drop/add" deadline I persuaded my advisor got get me into some/any class. He talked to Jack and told me that if I could get a portfolio together and Jack approved, I could take the class. I drew all weekend long and was accepted that Monday. It was a "filler" class, but then Jack's magic took over. I loved that class and loved what he brought to it. I'd taken art classes for years, and thought I was pretty good, or at least OK. But Jack showed me other ways to see, and other ways to understand what I was seeing. Things from that class still come to mind and I still have many of the drawings I did then. They're still some of the best things I've ever done. Thank you, Jack. You made a difference! Judy Cone
judycone August 16th, 2014
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