Robert Bruce Ammons
MISSOULA - Robert Bruce Ammons, 79, died of pneumonia at home on Friday, May 21, 1999.
He was born in the governor's mansion in Denver on Feb. 27, 1920, to Bruce Ammons and Margaret Gates Ammons and resided for several years on the family's homestead outside of Partial, Colo. After attending several grade schools where his mother taught, he graduated from high school in San Diego and then from San Diego State College in 1939 with majors in history as well as psychology, political science and German.
He received his general secondary teaching credentials from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1940. In 1941 he earned a master's degree from the University of Iowa in general psychology. He worked in an aircraft factory in San Diego during World War II and in 1946 received a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa that included both clinical and experimental psychology.
Before coming to the University of Montana in 1957 as a full professor, he was an instructor at Syracuse University in 1946; an assistant professor at the University of Denver from 1946 to 1948, at Tulane University in 1948-49 and at the University of Louisville from 1949 to 1955; and an associate professor at the University of North Dakota in 1956-57. He retired as professor emeritus from the University of Montana in 1985 after 28 years of service. He was originally certified in 1975 by the Council for the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology, and worked and consulted in clinical psychology.
Dr. Ammons was recognized professionally as a fellow of the AAAS, Sigma Xi and several divisions of the American Psychological Association, including Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Clinical, and History of Psychology. He held memberships in more than 30 other international scientific and professionally related organizations and also held several offices in the Montana Psychological Association from 1958 to 1985, including the presidency and secretary of the MPA Board of Examiners.
He did research on motor skills learning, verbal intelligence, cultural history, child development and many other areas, accumulating over 300 publications, and authored or co-authored more than 170 papers at scientific meetings. With his wife Carol H. Ammons, he founded two well-respected journals in psychology, Psychological Reports and Perceptual and Motor Skills, which are still active.
His strong affection for his family was expressed in his persistent encouragement and support of high standards academically and personally. His family remembers him also insisting that on family hikes, they only go as fast as the slowest person in the group (little sister or granny) could manage. His care included seat belts for all, even in the pickup, long before they were standard in cars, a love of reading and scientific research on every topic, educational trips to major observatories, professional and private researchers' laboratories, support for science fair projects and endless experiments, teaching kids to drive and understand how a car works. Classical music was a source of delight for him and Carol, and they encouraged their children in listening and making music.
His close and appreciative attention was given, like it or not, to many thousands of students at the university, and to the employees in his business, whose well-being was of great importance to him. Grandchildren were perhaps his softest spot, and he loved eliciting an infant's smile, triggering a child's curiosity and discovery, and gently surprising even the smallest one with something unexpected. Most of all, he loved a mental challenge and actively pursued these, often to focus exploration of personal sensitivity and understanding. Seldom did he let up. We will all miss his richness in living.
Dr. Bob was preceded in death by his parents and sister Mary Virginia Zirker. Survivors include his wife Carol at the family home; son Carl and his wife Rachael, son Bruce and his wife Mami and son Doug and his Robin, all of Missoula; daughter Bet
h and her husband Dan Monroe of Whitefish; son Richard and his wife Stephanie, and daughter Stephanie and her husband Brad Isbell, all of Missoula; and daughter Nyss of Boulder, Colo. Also surviving are his brother Carl Luth of New Jersey and his children Frieda, Erika and Kurt of Brooklyn, NY.; and a daughter, Carolyn Ruth O'Neill of Petaluma, Calif. The 17 grandchildren include Zackary, Jeff, Carolyn, Sandy, Julie, Wren, Rob, Leslie, Callie, Cory, Cece, Max, Olivia, Alex, Andrew, Sophia and Eli. Survivors also include an extended family of former students who lived during their college years with the family and have continued affectionate friendships.
Immediate arrangements include a private family celebration. Cremation has taken place at Garden City Funeral Home and Crematory. A remembrance gathering will be announced at a later date in mid-summer.
Memorial contributions for research may be made to the Ammons Auditorium, Virtual Reality Brain Science Center, in care of Sherry Dingman, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Marist College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; or to the charity of your choice with his friendship in mind.
The family would deeply appreciate receiving any stories his friends, students and coworkers might share with us, in writing or on tape. We are collecting these in the same historical spirit Dr. Bob always showed, to share with his family to come.