Robert M. Raiselis

HARTFORD, VT — Robert M. Raiselis, 64, of Hartford, Vermont, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, December 30, 2018. Bob was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on March 18, 1954. He grew up the middle child among four siblings: Ellen O’Brien, Richard Raiselis, Ronald Raiselis, and Joan Raiselis; his late father, George Raiselis; and mother, Regina (Ginch) Raiselis.

Three years later, Bob moved to Vermont to learn about furniture making. After apprenticing for two years as a cabinet maker with the future head furniture restorer at The J. Paul Getty Museum, Bob got a job at Dartmouth Museum and Galleries as a preparator. He met Ralph Steiner and Varujan Boghosian, and participated in the design of the Hood Museum of Art. In the mid-1980s, Bob became an exhibits curator for The Hood, eventually moving on to act as Technical Director and Scenic Designer for River City Arts, now Northern Stage.

In addition to Bob’s art history, he had a passion for music and radio. He hosted classical, folk, and Broadway musical radio programs, first hearing the voice of his late wife, Beth Phinney, on the radio when she was a host at VPR, where he has served as a volunteer engineer. They soon met and fell in love while working at WXKE in White River Junction. Later in life, Bob recorded articles from The New Yorker to be played on-air for NIRIS as a service for the blind. His delight in musical instruments of all kinds started early and never faltered; the more he played, the better.

In the early 2000’s Bob worked as the Executive Director for ValleyNet in addition to serving as the Director of Exhibits and Associate Director at the Montshire Museum of Science, designing and building exhibitions. When ValleyNet closed in 2010, he moved to a full-time focus at MMS. He helped create exhibitions like Air Works, Solve It!, Discovering the Natural World, Making Music, Bubbles, TOYS: The Inside Story, Hear Here, and many others. His passion was to bring a greater understanding of the importance of interactive play and engaging families in the experience of an exhibit to inspire their knowledge and appreciation of science and the natural world.

 

Bob’s love for technology and learning lead him to many side projects as well, including educational presentations on computer topics for the public, consulting for website and design, and photo and document restoration. His knowledge of all things technical and mechanical was encyclopedic. His fascination with astronomy, ornithology, photography, carpentry, and machining filled whatever free time he found.

In addition to Bob’s siblings, their spouses and his mother, he is survived by his son, Chris Acker, who he loved as much as any father loved his biological son “maybe more”, and daughter-in-law, Taylor Haynes, both of Wilder, Vermont; mother-in-law, Janice Hoyt Phinney of Norwich, Vermont; aunt Kathleen Raiselis of Fairfield, Connecticut; Nieces Rebecca Carr Wong and Diana Raiselis; Nephews Lloyd Ellman and Aydan Ellman; and partner Heidi Reynolds and her daughter Maia Reynolds of Hanover, New Hampshire.

 

The family requests that no flowers be sent; memorial contributions may kindly be made in Bob’s honor to the Montshire Museum of Science. A celebration of his life will be held at a future date.

Bob was raised in a house his parents built. His father taught him about carpentry and electrical and plumbing repair. His mother taught him cooking and sewing. From them, Bob learned the importance of hard work. His parents raised their children to become musicians, artists, writers, designers, and craftspeople.

 

Bob graduated from Andrew Warde High School in 1972. He went on to attend Yale and majored in Drama while taking courses in scenic design, lighting, engineering, music, and graphic design. He graduated early in August 1975 to work full-time rebuilding the pipe organs at Yale.