Robert Accinelli

Obituary of Robert Accinelli

Early on July 3, 2019 Bob (Robert) Accinelli died of metastatic bladder cancer. He left this world on his own terms citing “I’m ready -Curtain Down”, just as he lived life with love, humor and wisdom.  Many will remember his insights in US politics -which were much needed of late - and of interest these past few years was gerrymandering. He was always up for a friendly political debate. He loved live music and theatre. He was generous of time and spirit and believed strongly in the importance of philanthropy particularly of the arts (Vanier College Productions) and PBS which he watched faithfully. 

Bob was an avid walker, cyclist and hiker. He traveled extensively including Iqaluit, Nunavut as well as various destinations in Asia, East Europe; his last two big trips were Turkey and Ireland. And at the yearly Accinelli tree-trimming event with family and friends he became infamous at charades.

Near his retirement Bob became a dedicated student of Italian at the Istuto Italiano di Cultura a group of friends he still met for lunches. Bob was an active contributor at the Academy for Lifelong Learning at Knox College, U of T and more recently he joined Democrats & Donuts. With each activity, Bob would become part of a new community that was richer for his presence.

Bob was born and raised in San Francisco and educated in parochial schools. He obtained a BA in history from Santa Clara University, where he graduated Suma Cum Laude and was class valedictorian. He then went on to complete his master and PhD history degrees from UC Berkeley, were he met his wife Nancy and made life-long friends. In 1965 he joined the History Department at the University of Toronto; he loved teaching there until his retirement. He was a respected scholar, an accomplished teacher and for a time President of the Canadian Association of American Studies.

Preceded by his wife Nancy, he leaves behind his two children, daughter Francesca (Michel) and son Adrian (Andrea). Bob was a proud grandfather of Elodie, James, Bixente and Juliet. Much loved brother to Lena Garbarino (Fiore) and the late Edward Chiappari (Lori), and uncle to Ron, Julie and Joe (deceased). Bob was also very fond of his sister-in-law Trish (Dian) who was truly a kindred spirit for him.

He was kind and gentle with a subtle but wonderful sense of humour. He will be missed. Our hearts are full.

All are welcome to gather on Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 2:00 pm to share memories and express condolences until 3:00 pm when a Celebration of Life will be held at R.S. Kane Funeral Home – Chapel, 6150 Yonge Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M2M 3W9(  


In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Robert Accinelli for York University (Vanier College Productions), which are eligible for matching funds, ( would be greatly appreciated by his family.