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Transitioning to Retirement

“I was so absorbed in my life in theater and found it so rewarding and challenging that I assumed that I would never retire,” says scenic designer and set designer Robert Cothran, a resident of Kendal at Oberlin in Ohio. Now a professor emeritus, Bob taught set design, drawing and scenic painting for 30 years as a faculty member of the theater department at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. When Bob and his wife were in their early 70s, though, they decided it was time to retire when they learned his wife had Alzheimer’s disease. Since moving to Kendal at Oberlin, Bob says he has seen his drawing and painting projects there “turn into utterly unexpected and absorbing new versions of and approaches to what I have been doing for so many years in the theatre.” Below is a photo of Bob with a large-scale mural he created for the outer part of the main dining room at Kendal at Oberlin.


Bob served as resident scene designer for the Clarence Brown Company, a league of resident theaters at the University of Tennessee for over 25 years. He also has worked as a stage designer for regional professional theaters on the East Coast. His lithographs are included in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the Ammon Carter Museum of the University of Tennessee and in many public and private collections.