Robert Grove Hollingsworth ’80

Robert (Robbie) G. Hollingsworth, aged 61, died tragically on February 2, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. This occurred not long after he returned to work in Raleigh after many rewarding years abroad and in Hawaii.

Robbie left behind heartbroken family and friends including his son Cas, his former wife, Dianna Middleton Hollingsworth, and beloved brothers Joe, Tom, and Lewis. His own mother Dody, a kind, sweet lady, and his father Thomas, who both loved Robbie dearly, preceded him in death.

Robbie was an idealist and most of his life he was strongly optimistic and cheerful. Indeed, he was a fun-loving person, a fast runner, eager tennis player, and a fisherman. He was known to artfully make and enjoy a pot of coffee daily from freshly ground beans and on occasion took a stiff drink of bourbon with a friend while partaking in wide ranging conversations reflective of his broad interests. Yet despite all of this, Robbie lost his footing later in life and fell into recurring deep depression, which his family, friends, and colleagues were unable to help him escape.

Robbie was a graduate of Avery County High School and a 1980 graduate of Davidson College. He subsequently received a Ph.D. in Entomology from N.C. State University. Yes, Robbie was a guy who got excited about fruit flies and was not afraid of spiders. After receiving his doctorate Robbie became a Fulbright scholar in Papua New Guinea and subsequently completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Hawaii and the University of Arkansas.

In his professional life Robbie enjoyed working as a research entomologist with the USDA in far flung locales addressing pest management issues. Eventually, he, Diana, and Cas made their way to Hilo Hawaii, where he maintained a home. In true Davidson form, he served as an entomologist in the US Peace Corps in Western Samoa, and he participated in the Solomon Islands in The United Nations Volunteers program, an organization that promotes volunteerism to support peace and development worldwide. Unquestionably, Robbie used his skill and expertise to make things better on this earth.

So much positive defined Robbie’s life. He was kindhearted and generous to a fault, always seeking to include family and close friends whenever he had something to offer. Robbie was a good man, father, husband, brother, son, and friend and will be greatly missed.


There’s a certain Slant of light,

Winter Afternoons —

That oppresses, like the Heft

Of Cathedral Tunes —

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us —

We can find no scar,

But internal difference —

Where the Meanings are.

Emily Dickinson

Remarks prepared by classmate and friend G. Brooks Adams ’80.