Stamps, wounded on May 4, dies at 57

Kristen Traynor

Robert “Robby” Stamps

Credit: DKS Editors

One of the nine students wounded in the May 4, 1970 shootings, died of pneumonia last week in Tallahassee, Fla., at the age of 57.

Robert “Robby” Stamps, originally from South Euclid, was very politically minded, said Alan Canfora, also wounded May 4. Stamps had a master’s degree in sociology and journalism from Kent State.

While studying at Kent State in the late 1960s, Stamps wrote an essay called “Save the Pooch” that students still read today in the May 4 class, Associate Provost Laura Davis said.

She said Stamps and other students passed out flyers in 1969 saying that a dog was going to be napalmed in front of the student union, knowing that a large number of students would show up to protest.

Stamps and other organizers then used this opportunity as a demonstration to show that all these people would show up to protest the napalming of a dog but not human beings. Davis teaches the May 4 class every spring with Carole Barbato, professor of communication studies.

“I think it speaks to Robby’s activism and concern,” Davis said. “It was still alive in him throughout the years.”

Stamps struggled for a long time with Lyme disease, Canfora said. Stamps speculated he was bitten by a deer tick on a May 4 Task Force trip to Mohican State Park in the late 1970s, and the tick infected him with the disease, Canfora said.

Stamps is the second student wounded on May 4, 1970 to pass away. Jim Russell died of a heart attack last summer.

Karen Cunningham, adviser for the May 4 Task Force, said it seems strange to her that both have died at such a young age and that Stamps and Russell were very passionate about the events of May 4.

“It’s tragic we’re losing some of these people so young,” Cunningham said. “Both of them had an interest in educating people, making sure things like that didn’t happen again.”

Kent resident Bruce Dzeda said he lived next door to Stamps in college at Harbourt Hall, and said Stamps had a serious illness throughout his college years.

Despite the pain of his illness, Dzeda said Stamps was the “most upbeat, cheerful, helpful kind of guy you could know.”

Canfora said Stamps’ health deteriorated throughout the 1970s.

Jerry Lewis, professor emeritus of sociology, who was a faculty marshal on May 4, said Stamps was a wonderful person and always sent him a message on the anniversary of May 4.

“He was one of my support structures, to use a sociology term,” Lewis said.

There will be a private ceremony for Stamps June 23 in Tallahassee followed by a public ceremony in San Diego in July.

Contact principal reporter Kristen Traynor at [email protected].