A photo of Robert Sheridan

Robert Sheridan

October 11, 1940 - October 7, 2021

Robert Sheridan, age 80, of Townsend, DE, passed away peacefully on Thursday, October 7, 2021, surrounded by his loving family.

Born in Hoboken, NJ on October 11, 1940, he was a son of the late Philip Michael and May Ann (Miller) Sheridan. Robert graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in Geology from Rutgers University in 1962. He went on to receive his M.A. and Ph.D in marine geophysics from Columbia University in 1965 and 1968, respectively. Robert married the love of his life, Karen McCauley, in 1966.

He was proud to have served in 1968 on a U.S. Navy ice-breaker research ship as a private contractor in charge of geophysical surveys around Antarctica, for which he received the Antarctica Service Medal from the U.S. Navy. Later, Robert joined the faculty of the Department of Geology of the University of Delaware, reaching the rank of full professor in 1981. He transferred to Rutgers University in 1986 as a full professor, and retired in 2003 as Professor Emeritus. Robert was a fellow in the Geological Society of America, and a member of the American Geophysical Union and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

In his professional career, Robert contributed to the study of the Atlantic Continental Margin from Canada to the Bahamas using seismic reflection and refraction, coring and deep-sea drilling. In 1975, he co-led a deep-sea drilling project in which he was one of the first geoscientists to touch recovered methane ice from a huge deposit off the U.S. In 1980, Robert led a deep-sea drilling project cruise off the coast of Florida which drilled the oldest yet recovered sediments of the Atlantic Ocean. Also in 1980, he developed a new theory called Pulsation Tectonics in which lower mantle cyclic convection first affects the geomagnetic field and later the cyclic fast and slower movements of the surface tectonic plates. Robert enjoyed passing on his knowledge of geology by conducting field trips and merit badge workshops for Boy Scout troops.

He was especially proud of his contributions to American Naval history by using his marine geophysical knowledge to help locate in 1973, identify in 1974, and recover in 1998 through 2002, the wreck of the Civil War ironclad, U.S.S. Monitor. Robert was a Civil War enthusiast before that project, as his great-grandfather had served in the Union Army. He took his son, David, and his grandson, Justin, on Boy Scout ten-mile hikes around Gettysburg Battlefield.

Robert also spent much time using his knowledge to help preserve the environment and history, serving on many commissions and organizations to keep history and the earth relevant to future generations. He was active in the George W. Taylor Civil War Round Table In NJ, the Wilmington Civil War Round Table, and the Central Dover Civil War Round Table. His love of the outdoors was reflected in time spent hunting, fishing, and helping with environmental cleanups and conservation projects. Robert’s hunting achievements included killing two Canada geese on the wing with one shot, killing three whitetail bucks with his pistol, and at age 70, killing his first black bear. He was a descendant of veterans of the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, and World War 1.

With Karen, Robert enjoyed traveling to places in the US and foreign countries.

In addition to his parents, Robert is preceded in death by his granddaughter, Jessica Lynne Hall. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Karen (McCauley) Sheridan; children, Jennifer Hall, David (Laura), and Steven; siblings, Philip (Deanna), Elizabeth Balsamo, and Patricia Nisler; grandchildren, Justin Hall, Abigail Sheridan, and Rocco Sheridan; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A visitation for family and friends will be held from 6 pm until 8 pm on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, at Spicer-Mullikin Funeral Home, 275 East Main Street, Middletown, DE. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10:30 am on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, at St. Joseph Parish, 371 East Main Street, Middletown, DE. Face coverings will be required for all those in attendance not immunized with the COVID-19 vaccine per the Governor of Delaware. Interment will be held privately.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Robert’s memory to the American Cancer Society, PO Box 22478, Oklahoma City, OK 73123, or online by clicking here.

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21 Guestbook messages for Robert Sheridan

  • To Karen and Family, you all have my sincerest condolences. I pray that God will help you all through this saddest of times.
    I shall surely miss Bob, also. I admired him very much. He has been a wonderful influence on the younger generation in his family. You all were so blessed to have had him in your lives.

  • I am so sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. We were in graduate school together. He was in Marine Geophysics and I was in Submarine Geology. We both ended up teaching and doing research at the University of Delaware. I went on one of his on one of his marine geophysical research cruises. At the end of the cruise, we went snorkeling in the Bahamas. We were in the Geology Department together for sixteen years before he left to take a position at Rutgers. We reconnected, when he retired and moved back to Delaware. I will miss him.

  • My very deepest condolences to Karen and the family at this most difficult time. It was an honor to have known Bob and he will be dearly missed. Prayers will be offered for all.

  • Our cousin bob sheridan was one of the most kind and humble persons one could imagine, considering all his professional accomplishments in both geology and marine history. His glass was certainly half full all the time and the courage he exemplified in the challenges of his last years set the bar extremely high for all of us as did all of his personal and productive professional life.

    Annette and I send our condolences to all his family, especially his wife Karen.

    Don and Annette Miller, Williston, Vt.

  • I worked with Bob when we were both on the Geology faculty at The University of Delaware. I especially appreciated his love and excitement for teaching. A wonderful man who is sorely missed.

  • Rest in peace Brother Bob. Someday we will “See-Saw” in heaven together. LOVE ALWAYS
    Your sister Betty.

  • To the entire family, and many friends of Bobs, a heartfelt sorry.

    I like most people admired Bobs intellect. He literally was the smartest person in the room. Bobs humble demeanor is even more impressive after reading his obituary.

    Having spent times with Bob since I was a child I noticed how quiet Bob was during large gatherings. It was like he was reading the room, and listening more than talking.

    The world has lost a great man and heavens gained one.

    I’ll see you on the other side Bob,
    Cousin Mark 🙏

  • Bob will be missed I was always impressed on his life what he has accomplished love you all Paul and Laurie

  • Dear Karen and family..I am saddened to hear about Bob’s passing..such a kind man..praying the lords comfort be with you all..to enter heavens gate is the paradise we all look forward to..love you all Laurie and Paul Battista and family

  • Bob was extremely generous sharing his extensive knowledge on geology. A graphic novel about him could be called “Guardian of the Environment.”
    Bill McQuaide, Hampton, NJ

  • Bob was such a wise and wonderful man. We greatly appreciate all he was able to do on behalf of the Musconetcong River. He was a fountain of pertinent information and a great storyteller. Thanks for being a wonderful part of our lives.

  • So sorry for your loss.
    Carol and Jerry Wildstein

  • I was fortunate to have Bob as a mentor at Delaware and a colleague at Rutgers. He truly was both a “gentleman and a scholar” with a great regional perspective on how the Earth works. And as others have stated, he was a wonderful story teller. He will be missed. My deepest sympathies to Karen and his family.

  • I was so sorry to hear of Bob’s passing. I was a graduate student at UD on several of his oceanographic cruises in the 1970’s (Blake-Bahama plateau; Monitor discovery off of the NC coast), which were truly memorable experiences. He made sure that the female students had the same opportunities as the males, ground-breaking at the time! All the students on the cruises learned so much from Bob, not only about hands-on geophysical data collection , but also the camaraderie and bonding that developed as we enjoyed our “thousand dollar days” (1970’s costs!) aboard the research vessels and exploring the ports once we completed the cruises. I always enjoyed seeing him at Geology conferences in subsequent years. He will hold a special place in my memories.

  • I will remember Bob as a quiet and gentle soul who loved my dear friend Karen and his family, but also the wonders of the deep and America’s history. He seem to give of himself to worthy causes like discovering and preserving our history, his work on the Monitor among others, efforts on the Musconetcong River and so much more. I will miss my quiet friend Bob far into my future.

  • Bob was full of knowledge. Every Environmental Commission meeting I attended was a learning experience.
    We kept in touch after he left Hampton. He is so missed.

  • My heartfelt condolences go to Karen and the Sheridan family. Bob’s passing is major loss to the community. He was a geophysicist by training, but a brilliant well-rounded geologist interested in a wide variety of scientific challenges. I was fortunate to conduct research with Bob for a decade (1990s) during his tenure at Rutgers. We were an odd couple combining high resolution seismics and sedimentology to unravel the sea level history recorded in the nearshore marine stratigraphy. We co-supervised (alternatively playing good cop-bad cop!) six graduate students performing interdisciplinary studies. His good humor and infamous story telling often “saved the day”

  • Dear Karen & Family,
    We are so sorry for your loss. Our prayers and sympathy go out to you and your family at this time. Please know that we stand with you at this difficult time. Bob was an outstanding individual who made a meaningful contribution to all our lives.
    Rest in peace Bob.

  • We are saddened to hear of Dr. Sheridan’s passing. Such a full and accomplished life. Our sincerest condolences.

  • Bob was a great advocate of the Musconetcong River, and the Chair of the Hampton Environmental Commission. He was not afraid to speak up, and a strong advocate that science should be listened to, in order to protect the environment, wildlife, and human health and safety. Whenever we needed a river advocate, we could count on Bob. We at the Musconetcong Watershed Association and Musconetcong River Management Council honor his contributions. We mourn his loss and are enriched to have known him.

  • My condolences on Bob’s passing. I always enjoyed conversing with Bob … whether on geology or other topics. I’m grateful for the logic and context that he guided me to introduce to my studies in volcanology (especially while he served on my PhD committee). And I’ll never forget the meatballs he brought to geology department parties at Rutgers.