Cover photo for Dr. Robert Halli's Obituary
Dr. Robert Halli Profile Photo

Dr. Robert Halli

February 17, 1946 — April 15, 2024

Dr. Robert Halli

Age: 78

Northport Funeral & Cremation Service family extends our warmest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to the family of Mr. Robert Halli. 

On April 15, 2024, Robert W. Halli Jr. decided to combine the two things that are certain in life, death and taxes, and peacefully passed away at the age of 78 following a long and graceful battle with multiple medical issues. Dr. Halli, or Bob as he was known, was born February 17, 1946 in Baltimore Maryland to Robert and Jean Halli. He graduated from Loyola High School and completed his undergraduate degree in English at Boston College, where he was a Fulton Debate Scholar.  He then traveled to Charlottesville where he graduated with his Master’s and PhD in English from the University of Virginia. He moved to Tuscaloosa in 1972 to work at the University of Alabama (UA) and was a career academic: his mother said that he loved college so much he never left. He was a professor in the English department from 1972 to 2001, teaching classes varying from Shakespeare, Milton, and Donne, to ballads, the macabre, and the mystery novel. His great scholarly work was his book An Alabama Songbook which compiled and examined Alabama ballads collected by Byron Arnold. This scholarly achievement is particularly notable for the length of time taken to complete the work as well as the fact that Bob completed a book on ballads when he himself was mostly deaf due to a congenital malformation. In 2001 Dr. Halli took over as director of the Honors Program at UA. Under his direction the three main honors programs merged in 2002 to become the Honors College, and he became the founding dean. He spent his time growing honors offerings across campus, recruiting bright high school students to the university, creating the University Fellows Program for exceptional undergraduates, and mentoring thousands of students through his classes, his advising, and his stringent coaching for premier award applications. The Harry Truman Foundation recognized Dr. Halli for his work in the field of premier awards by appointing him the UA Faculty representative for the Truman Scholarship. Dr. Halli was tirelessly dedicated to the betterment and success of students and advocated for them in such venues as the Faculty Senate, where he spent many terms as president, as well as the faculty sponsor and leader in Sigma Tau Delta, the national English honorary, of which he was also the national president. His work with students and service to the university community led to multiple awards and honors, including the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award, the Outstanding Commitment to Students Award, the Morris Lehman Mayer Award, the Eugene Current-Garcia Award, and the University’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2009, Dr. Halli “retired” from his role as dean of the Honors College and focused on his continued teaching in the Alabama in Oxford Program. There, he maintained his postcard recruiting of potential honors students as well as provided experiential teaching for undergraduates, graduates, and teachers by walking multiple miles all over England in the name of literary education and finding a historic pub here and there. Outside of his roles as an academic, Bob was a fisherman, a storyteller, a singer, a helper, a kids sports coach (who might have had to look up rules of some games in an encyclopedia), a gardener, a cook, a family man, a father, a wit, and a friend. He loved those around him, his career, and his community, and served through Canterbury Church, the board of the Kentuck Art Center, and the board of Tuscaloosa’s One Place. 

He is predeceased by his father, Robert W. Halli Sr., his mother, Jean Doran Halli, and his stepmother Eileen Armstrong Halli. He is survived and remembered by his wife, Allen Jones-Halli, his children, Anne Halli-Tierney (Mike Tierney) and Joe Halli (Kate Kreinbring) and their mother Judith Halli, Allen’s children Allene Jones (Kevin), Libby Hughes (Chip), and Polly Zuber (Christian), his sister Nancy Halli (Ted Johnson), 10 grandchildren, his stalwart and sausagelike dog Pip, his aloof but loving cat Coco, and all those who knew him, loved him, learned from him and took a piece of him with them. 

Services in remembrance of Dr. Halli will be on Saturday, May 11 with a private family ceremony followed by a community celebration of Bob’s life at 1pm at the University of Alabama Hillel, 380 9th Street, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401. Donations in Bob’s name may be made to the Deacon’s Deli at Canterbury Episcopal Church, which is a ministry near and dear to Bob’s heart and where he delighted in handing out frozen chickens, or to Hospice of West Alabama, whose care in the last months allowed Bob a comfortable passing at home on his sunporch looking out at the lake that he loved.   

Compassionate, sympathetic, and professional service has been entrusted to the hands and care of the Northport Funeral & Cremation Service Professional Team.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Dr. Robert Halli, please visit our flower store.

Past Services

Celebration of Life

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

University of Alabama Hillel

380 9th Street, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401

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