Robert “Bob” N. Singer

Robert N. (Bob) Singer passed away peacefully on Monday, May 20, 2019, at the age of
82. Bob was a devoted husband to his wife Beverly (Tyre) Singer. They were happily married
for 37 years. He is also survived by step-son Lance (Tina) Johnson and two grandchildren, Asher
and Addrey Johnson, as well as one brother Neal (Jill) of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Bob was
one-of-a-kind, and ate life with both hands. Family and friends will remember him as caring,
compassionate, and gregarious. He would brighten any room with his warm presence,
lightning-quick wit, and endearing sense of humor.
Bob attended Brooklyn College, beginning in
1954. His studies were put on hold when he
voluntarily enlisted in the US Army during the
Korean War, serving from 1955-1958. He was
honorably discharged, and returned to Brooklyn
College in 1958, where he was a standout guard on
the Brooklyn College basketball team. He
graduated in 1961 with his B.S., went on to
complete his M.S. at Penn State University in 1962,
and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1964.
Bob then served on the faculty of several
universities, including a 17-year tenure at Florida
State University. He moved to the University of
Florida in 1987, where he served as Chair of the
Department of Exercise and Sport Sciences for the
next 15 years, during which time he led the
department to international prominence.
Bob’s accomplishments as a scholar, leader, teacher, and mentor are legendary. He will be
remembered as a true pioneer in the fields of motor learning and sport psychology. His
research focused on understanding cognitive processes and learning strategies involved in skill
acquisition, expert performance, and the development of expertise. He was a prolific
researcher – having published 17 books, over 200 research, scientific, and professional articles,
and 25 book chapters over his remarkable career. His extensive and timeless scholarly
contributions are perhaps best exemplified by two seminal books, Motor learning and human
performance: An application to physical education skills, published in 1968, and the Handbook
of Research on Sport Psychology, published in 1993. Both were landmark contributions that
served to advance the related fields of motor learning and sport psychology – in substance and
respectability – in ways that cannot be overstated. His more than three dozen former Ph.D.
students who have carried Bob’s influence throughout the world as faculty members and
practitioners will fondly remember Bob as a firm yet gentle, inspiring, and dedicated mentor.
Bob was a selfless, tireless, and innovative servant leader in the field of sport psychology.
Among other influential leadership positions, Bob served as Head of the Sport Psychology
Division of the Sports Medicine Committee of the United States Olympic Committee, President
of the Division of Exercise and Sport Psychology of the American Psychological Association,
President of the American Academy of Kinesiology and Physical Education, and President of
the International Society of Sport Psychology. Bob was actively involved in international
developments and the advancement of sport psychology through his enormous international
network of friends and colleagues, as reflected in the nearly 400 presentations he made in
more than 50 countries during his career. Bob highly valued the opportunity to apply his
scholarly expertise to the benefit of others, and served as a skilled consultant to athletes and
coaches across many sports. His reputation extended beyond sports, to other areas of
expertise. For example, when President Reagan was shot, the head of his detail called upon
Bob’s expertise in the psychological factors underlying movement automaticity during the
investigation. Never one to seek recognition for his accomplishments, Bob was nonetheless
highly decorated for his incredible impact. Among other awards, he received the inaugural
award for Distinguished Contributions to the Science of Exercise of Sport and Exercise
Psychology from the American Psychological Association, the Distinguished International Sport
Psychology award from the International Society of Sport Psychology, and the Distinguished
Scholar award from the North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical
Activity.
In addition to dedicating his life to studying the psychology of sport and physical activity, Bob
practiced what he preached. He was a two sport athlete at Brooklyn College, where he played
both baseball and basketball. He was particularly fond of racquet sports, however, and was an
accomplished tennis and badminton player. Bob was a generous supporter of, and ambassador
for the performing arts. As a leader in the field of kinesiology, Bob had a natural affinity for
dance, and was a champion of storytelling through the art of movement. Fittingly, memorial
donations in Bob’s name (and in lieu of flowers) can be made to the University of Florida
Performing Arts, made out the UF Foundation Inc., Fund 4437, and sent to P.O. Box 14425,
Gainesville, FL 32604-2425, attn: Gift Processing. Please note Bob Singer or UF Performing Arts
[fund #4437] in the memo area.
A memorial celebration of Bob’s life will be held June 29, 2019, 5:00 PM at the Center for
Performing Arts, Fackler Foyer, 3201 Hull Rd, Gainesville, FL 32611.