Robert S. Birch ’57

Robert Salisbury Birch, 83, died peacefully in Lake Wales, FL on February 7, 2022. He was born in Boonton, NJ on March 13, 1938 to Elizabeth and Foster F. Birch III. He grew up in Boonton and spent his summers in Cape Cod, MA where he was a wicked backyard croquet player and a crafty tennis competitor. He had a lifelong love for the stock market, even though his first investment, at age nine, was in a worthless penny stock sold by a slicker over the phone. His father made him follow through on the purchase because he had given his word, and he gained an enduring lesson. He started as a runner on Wall Street as a teenager, became an intern in his college years, and an analyst and broker before rising to Managing Director at Oppenheimer and Company in a career there that spanned 55 years. He attended Brown University, where as president of his fraternity, Sigma Chi, he is remembered for his ability to run it with a profit without cutting out the fun. After graduating with a degree in Political Science, he pursued an MBA from Cornell University and then moved to his first job at A.G. Becker in New York City. There, he learned the business, having the pioneering Jane Brett, one of the first female stock analysts in a world of men, and the legendary Bob Wilson, as mentors. Over the years, his colleagues laughed at his many pithy sayings (“The advice is free, but it could be very costly,” “Patience can be rewarded as long as you’re not sitting on stone eggs,” or “Buy straw hats in the winter”) which they enjoyed so much they eventually compiled and circulated in a little red booklet entitled, “The Sayings of Chairman Birch.” All the while, they celebrated his shrewd market wisdom and admired his daring and unconventional investment style. He loved his many friends and dogs, especially Berry, a gift one Christmas. And his friends loved him for his jovial nature, loyalty, and generous spirit. He was thoughtful, remembering birthdays, sending flowers for all occasions (but candies on sale to his wife on February 15th), delighting in Christmas caroling, and applauding others’ accomplishments far and wide. He was a tremendous father and grandfather, always present, loving, and patient. He enjoyed giving advice, loved bargains and auctions, and delighted in a good joke with a merry twinkle in his eye. He had a grand tradition of presenting house guests with hats, bags, or shirts – all adorned with his made-up family motto, “Melius suspendi est ut lupum quam ovem.” (Better be hung for a wolf than a sheep.) He was a generous and engaged member in the communities where he lived in New York and Cape Cod, serving on the boards of The Bridge Fund of New York, Dancing Classrooms NYC and the Bourne Conservation Trust. He was an Elder, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, a Trustee, Brick Church, both in New York City and served on his coop board for years. He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Eugenie L. Birch, his children and their spouses: Foster (Aileen Kim), Rebecca (Mark Pankoff), and Victoria (Yves Vandeplas), and his seven grandchildren: Robert, Lawrence, and Elizabeth Birch; Hugo, Augusta, Phebe, and Fredericka Pankoff. A memorial will be held in the spring. Those wishing to celebrate his memory, please send donations to the Bourne Conservation Trust: (https://www.bourne or The Bridge Fund Inc of New York for Preventing Homelessness

2 thoughts on “Robert S. Birch ’57”

  1. I spent hours with Bob and his roommate, Corby Finney and the rest of the gang solving the problems of the world. He would often mention his former classmates at Andover whose names frequently appear in financial publications. and I knew that when he was set loose he would rise to the top. Godspeed Bob, there will never be another.


  2. Bob and I were roommates for two years. We shared certain traits: we both were mischievous , both were dorm heads amongst the student body, both hitchhiked overnight to Florida on one scary night during spring break, both played tennis at Bob’s summer house on Cape Cod, both dated girls at Northampton School for Bob – Lyidia, me – Sonie (aka Alison Damon). I visited Bob and his charming parents in Boonton. We discussed religion at length. If I remember correctly Bob’s mom was Roman Catholic and his dad Protestant. I was his guest at a very hair-raising week end frat party at Brown. I visited him and his wife this their beautiful apartment in NYC at least once. He was known to close friends as MOTHER BIRCH – now that I am very aged and in problematic health I’ll construe that moniker to me that Bob was a caring person. He was that to me. He was the older brother that I never had. He was an avid student of American history, a subject that I found exceedingly boring. Bob was at home in Archibald Hepworth’s class, and Bob and Nestor NIcholas used to discuss American history with endless detail and insight. I send greetings to Genie and Bob’s sister whose name I do not remember. I was hoping to greet Bob at reunions on campus. Bob was a really trusted older brother to me and his death brings me to tears.


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