Robert C. Padden

Feb 25, 2013

Rockland — Professor Robert C. Padden died peacefully at Pen Bay Medical Center after a brief struggle with pneumonia. He was 90 and had lived in Rockland since 1988.

Dr. Padden was a leading figure in the study of Latin American history and culture. He was Emeritus Professor of history at Brown University where he taught innovative courses concerning the ethno-history of European expansion, comparative American colonial societies and Mexican national history, among others. He was the author of "The Hummingbird and the Hawk, Conquest and Sovereignty in the Valley of Mexico, 1503-1541." He also edited a new translation of "Tales of Potosí," by Bartolomé Arzáns de Orsúa y Vela which was acclaimed by the Times Literary Supplement as a major contribution to Latin American studies. During his 17 year tenure, Dr. Padden co-founded the Department of Portuguese and Brazilian studies that inaugurated an interdisciplinary approach to historical inquiry which resonated across the humanities at Brown University and beyond. He regularly published articles in "The American Historical Review" and the "Southwestern Journal of Anthropology." Previous to his appointment at Brown University, Dr. Padden was professor of history at St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis.

Dr. Padden served in the Navy during the second World War, first as gunner's mate and later as chief petty officer assigned to accompany Merchant Marine vessels delivering munitions throughout the South Pacific. After the war he graduated cum laude from the University of California at Santa Barbara and later received his masters degree and doctorate from University of California at Berkeley. In between semesters of study, Dr. Padden worked as a credit manager at The Desert Inn and famed Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. He wrote about this unique point of view into casino life for Harper's Magazine in an article entitled "Reflections of a Gilded Cage" which was published in 1971. Always an avid fly fisherman, upon retiring from academia, Dr. Padden contributed articles and reviews to "Rod and Reel, the Journal of American Fly-Fishing."

Professor Padden is lovingly remembered by his wife of 60 years, Adele, daughters Penelope and Lorraine, as well as countless students, scholars and happy readers who enjoyed his keen intellectual curiosity, fortitude and humor.

Dr. Padden's family will hold a public celebration of his life Saturday, March 23, at 2 p.m. at United Christian Church of Lincolnville, 18 Searsmont Road. Directions at ucclincolnville.org. No flowers please. Condolences may be made online at ripostafh.com.

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