First Baptist Church
501 5th Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Monday, Jan 15, 2018
Mar 24, 1940 - Jan 11, 2018
Bobby Forrester Caviness (Bob) died on January 11, 2018 in Winston-Salem, NC. He was born in Asheboro, NC on March 24, 1940, to Nancy Auman and Alfred Fields Caviness. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Jane Shearin Caviness, daughter Dr. Kristen Caviness Sihler, and son-in-law Edward Sihler. He is also survived by his sister Patricia Caviness Weekly (Phillip) and nephew Benjamin Daughtridge (Corena). In addition are his brother-in-law Ronald Shearin (Roma), nieces Daun Whitley (John) and Tanya Jones (Matt) and nephew Derek Shearin (Lisa), godson Scott Sayers, aunts Marion Auman and Josephine Auman and numerous cousins. Longtime daughter-by-choice, Anne Talcott Houseal, helped immensely this last month. He is also survived by a large number of children (mostly now grown) who called him Uncle Bob and whom he took to ice cream shops and returned to their parents with sticky hands and faces. He was predeceased by his parents and his other sister, Betty Caviness Brantley.
He graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina in 1962 and was a lifelong Tar Heel fan. He earned his MS and PhD in mathematics and computer science from Carnegie Mellon University, finishing in 1968. He taught at Duke, the University of Wisconsin, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he became a full professor, before moving to the University of Delaware.
Bob went to the University of Delaware as chair of the computer and information sciences department in 1981, a post which he held until 1987. He remained at the University of Delaware until his retirement in 2004, where he was known for his quiet, thoughtful leadership. He was a key figure in the field of symbolic computation and was editor-in-chief of The Journal of Symbolic Computation. He enjoyed teaching and was a demanding professor, but students and junior faculty who persevered were rewarded with a devoted mentor.
After his retirement, he and Jane moved back to North Carolina where he enjoyed being involved in a number of service activities, including delivering Meals on Wheels until early December, 2017, helping with voter registration drives, and rebuilding homes after Hurricane Katrina.
One of his favorite groups was the ramp building crew, associated with First Baptist Church on Fifth, where he was a member. There were many stories associated with this fulfilling work, and he was very proud of the over 1000 ramps they built.
He also immensely enjoyed growing wildflowers at the mountain cabin, making photographs of the many plants and mountain views, hiking with friends and family, and hanging out on the porch of the cabin. He felt that this place was his “heaven on earth”. Back in Winston-Salem, he enjoyed tending his fish pond, attending Wake Forest basketball games with friends, and working with the homeowners’ association.
Bob and Jane were incredibly touched by the huge number of people who reached out in the past few months. Whether they emailed, called, or came in person, they enjoyed the time and stories that were shared.
The family is very grateful for the care Bob received at the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home. The service will be Monday January 15 at 1PM at First Baptist Church on 5th Street in Winston-Salem. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to the Hospice and Palliative Care Center of Winston-Salem - 101 Hospice Lane, Winston-Salem, NC 27103 or to the First Baptist Church building fund - 501 5th Street, Winston-Salem, NC 27101.
Online condolences may be sent to www.salemfh.com.
Our thoughts are with you!
Phelps, Elizabeth and Mikaela Turner
I am praying for you and yours in these days of grief. I had nothing but admiration for Bob, because he not only had a brilliant mind, but a generous heart and a serving spirit. May God give you and yours peace and comfort.
Thinking of you during this difficult time, with sympathy and warm remembrance.
Thinking of you during this difficult time. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.
Bob & Katie Ess
So sorry to hear about Bob. You've been in our thoughts and prayers since we read about his passing. Miss you, Love---Bob and Katie