Frank Chambers Robert ’57

Frank Chambers Robert, M.D. (88) passed away on May 24, 2023. He was born August 22, 1934, in Richmond, VA to Dr. Joseph and Evelyn Robert. After attending Phillips Academy, Andover MA. and after completing a post graduate year at Christchurch School, he attended Davidson College, graduating in 1957 with a degree in Physics. He was a member of Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI) fraternity. While attending a dance party, he saw his future wife, Jean Coston Bailey, across the crowded room. It was love at first sight, and they were married in Charlotte, NC on September 7, 1957.

He continued his education, obtaining a master’s degree in physics from Vanderbilt University, and working on radiation research at Oak Ridge, TN. He was chosen to work with NACA, the precursor to NASA, on project PARD and moved to Williamsburg, VA. He was involved with the Life Support Systems which produced several inventions that ended up in the Smithsonian Institute. In 1958, while working for NACA, he was one of the original 16 men who were chosen to start NASA as the Space Task Group.  

As Frank worked with the astronauts, he became increasingly intrigued with the human body, and developed a love of medicine. He decided to change careers and attend medical school. While obtaining additional prerequisite premed classes, he taught at Darlington and Christchurch prep schools.

In 1967, he received his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia and completed a residency at the Medical College of Virginia, eventually choosing to practice Family Medicine in Hampton, VA.

Frank loved helping people. He would see patients all day, eat dinner with his family, and return to the hospital to visit patients at night, always in a coat and tie, often with one of his children in tow. When walking the hospital hallways, he wanted to know something personal about everyone he met. He served as Chief of Staff at Hampton General Hospital. His medical practice allowed him to marvel how God would work in peoples’ lives.  One of his favorite experiences was participating on the medical mission the “Flying Hospital” in Bolivia, South America. He joked that it was his favorite time because he didn’t have to deal with paperwork! 

Frank was a devoted, faithful member of First Presbyterian Church of Hampton where he developed countless close, cherished friendships, and served as a Deacon and Elder. He frequently worked behind the scenes to help those in need. He loved his Wednesday morning Christian Men’s Bible study group.  

He loved music and was president of the Peninsula Symphony Orchestra, which later merged with other organizations to become the Virginia Symphony Orchestra. 

He loved long family trips, often with no itinerary, in the family Winnebago, hot air balloon rides, flying private airplanes, sailing, and tours of Europe. He cherished his time at his beloved waterfront home, sitting on the back porch holding Jean’s hand, watching his children and grandchildren playing in the pool while boats and ships passed by in the background.

Frank was preceded in death by his parents and two infant daughters, Mary Robert, and Sharon Robert. 

He is survived by his beautiful red-headed wife of 66 years, Jean, and their 6 children: Frank Robert Jr, (Elizabeth), Elizabeth Fyock (Jack), Scott Robert (Laura), Katherine Shield (Stephen), Michael Robert (Kate), and Patricia Robert.

Frank was blessed with 15 grandchildren: Rebecca Greer, Christina Bristow (Ryan), Michael Shield (Mollie), Jillian Fisher (Jesse), Natalie Fyock, Matthew Shield, Lindsay Robert, Andrew Shield, Neal Fyock, Virginia Robert, Sarah Robert, Charlotte Robert, Joseph Robert, Cameron Robert, and Joshua Robert.  

He also had two great-grandsons: James Greer and Benjamin Bristow.  

He is also survived by his lovely, witty sister Carol Robert Armstrong, of St. Louis, MO and his niece Evelyn Armstrong (Will Marks) and nephew Robert Armstrong (Kristen).  

Frank was a brilliant and compassionate physician. He was an incredible father and had the type of marriage that served as a role model for other couples and families. His Christian faith was powerful and easily conveyed to others. He had an innate ability to make someone feel loved and that he or she was the most important person at that moment.

We thank everyone who helped care for Dr. Frank Robert and supported our family including Dr. Todd Weisman, all the caring medical staff, the wonderful home helpers, the Williamsburg Landing staff, close friends, and the members of First Presbyterian Church.  

A service honoring Dr. Frank Chambers Robert will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Hampton, at 12 p.m. on Friday, June 2, 2023, with a reception immediately following.  

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to First Presbyterian Church of Hampton, 514 S. Armistead Ave, Hampton, VA. 23669.