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A memorial service will be held next month for the late psychology professor Robert E. Thayer at the University Student Union next month after serving for 51 years at Cal State Long Beach.
Thayer died earlier this semester on his birthday at the age of 79 due to heart failure, according to a close friend.
Thayer was born on Aug. 25, 1935 in Chicago and moved to San Bernardino at an early age. He later graduated from San Bernardino High School. He went on to get his bachelors degree at the University of Redlands and his doctorate degree in psychology at University of Rochester.
Martin Fiebert, a colleague and long-time friend of Thayer’s, said that Thayer started teaching psychology at CSULB in 1963. Fiebert said he was an active member in the university and genuinely cared about what was happening on campus.
Thayer was a part of the academic senate and was one of the founders of the instructor evaluations that are given to students at the end of the semester. He was also known to enjoy having informal discussions with his colleagues about their research and findings. He authored three books on mood including “The Origin of Everyday Moods: Managing Energy, Tension, and Stress.”
Christopher Warren, a colleague and friend of Thayer’s, said, “Bob would park far away from his classroom so that he would have to walk about 10 minutes just to put himself into a good mood – he really practiced what he preached.”
Thayer’s work and research were widely cited by various scientific literature and popular press, including Newsday, New York: Oxford University Press, USA Today, Marie Claire, Weight Watchers and New Scientist, which made him a “Citation Classic,” author according to the CSULB’s 2013-14 Department of Psychology newsletter and calmenergy.com, a website made for his books. Thayer also had his books translated into other languages like Spanish and Hebrew.
Fiebert said that Thayer had a “comical spirit” about him.
“I’d be sitting in my office and there’d be a student with him in the other room and they’d be chatting and suddenly Bob would be laughing — it just gave a really good vibe in room,” said Fiebert.
Fiebert said that Thayer was well-liked by all of his students and was a hands-on teacher.
“Last year at the end of the semester, the students gave him a standing ovation,” Fiebert said. “At some level, his students really appreciated him.”
His former students described him as “very approachable,” “funny and interesting” and “very encouraging,” according to many reviews on ratemyprofessor.com.
Thayer’s memorial service is open to anyone, although seating is limited. There will be a video of Thayer. Fiebert and others will speak about Thayer; afterward, the microphone will be open to any other attendants wanting to speak. There will also be a table with the three books Thayer wrote for anyone to take and enjoy.
Thayer is survived by his ex-wife Caroline and their two children — Kara and Leah — and his six grandchildren.
The USU will hold Thayer’s memorial on Friday, Oct. 24 in the Newport room at 10 a.m.