Robert M. Halperin, PhB’47, Trustee Emeritus, 1928-2014

Robert M. Halperin, PhB’47, lived in northern California, but the University of Chicago was never far from his mind.

As a committed University Trustee, he successfully led multiple alumni and development activities, helping raise millions of dollars to support the University’s research and scholarship. He had served as a Trustee Emeritus since 2007.

Halperin, former president of Raychem Corporation, a materials science firm, died on Oct. 26 in his Atherton, Calif. home after a long illness. He was 86.


An accomplished businessman, Halperin in 1957 joined Raychem, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based manufacturer of specialty wire, cable electrical insulation, plastic products and materials. He would serve as the company’s chief operating officer, president and vice chair before retiring in 1990. 

In his obituary, the San Francisco Chronicle described Halperin as a “hard-charging” executive who put in long hours growing the business and expanding into scores of foreign markets. He was nicknamed “Bullet Bob,” for his “quick decision-making in recruiting talent, expanding the business and closing deals.” The Chronicle noted that Raychem’s materials were used in Boeing commercial jets, the Apollo spacecraft and the Alaskan pipeline.

Halperin applied his business prowess to managing UChicago’s development and investment initiatives. He was elected to the Board of Trustees in 1981, serving on the executive, development, financial planning, and investment committees. He was also a member of the Alumni Association Cabinet, and life member of the visiting committee of the Division of Physical Sciences.

During the late 1980s, he helped form the ARCH Development Corporation, which adapts University-developed technologies for corporate needs. From 1990 to 1996, he chaired UChicago’s College Fund, setting up the class agent volunteer structure, now the fund’s cornerstone.

Raised on the South Side of Chicago, Halperin had a deep connection with UChicago. His mother Edna, brother Warren, AB’51, and son Mark, AB’81, graduated from the University. He received his PhB from UChicago in 1947, a BSME from Cornell University in 1949 and an MBA from Harvard University in 1952.

Halperin is survived by his three children, Peggy, Philip and Mark, AB’81. Ruth Levison Halperin, who was Robert’s wife of 52 years, died in 2008. A public memorial service was held in November 2014 at Stanford University.