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Pioneering designer dies
March 28, 1997
Robert Neff, long-time graphic arts director for University Publications before his early retirement, died March 9 after falling into the Mystic River. He was 67.
Neff's talents as a graphic designer and photographer played an important role in the transformation of the University under President Homer Babbidge and his successors from a provincial institution to a contender for regional and national attention. Neff's award-winning designs of admissions materials, catalogs, newsletters and continuing education flyers portrayed a university moving into prominence.
His work on behalf of Jorgensen Auditorium and the William Benton Museum of Art attracted new audiences. His work, ranging from football programs to fine arts booklets, demonstrated his versatility and ability to adapt his creative thrust.
Neff is remembered for creating designs of hardcover books and taking hundreds of pictures during campus sit-ins and Vietnam War protest riots in the late 1960s, a number of which were chosen for cover shots in national news magazines.
Neff was the co-author of Blues, the highly acclaimed hardcover book telling the story in photos and oral histories of black music and blues musicians. He took pictures of such blues greats as B.B. King and Muddy Waters.
An autopsy found that Neff died from accidental drowning. An investigation into the death continues.