Obituary: Lawrence Romboski / Statistics professor at California U.

Feb. 19, 1938 - Jan. 22, 2014

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Two years ago, Lawrence Romboski was crossing the street when he was hit by a car. His injuries were so bad that he was flown by helicopter to a nearby hospital.

Once he recovered, he had a request: He wanted to talk to the teenager who struck him.

"He didn't want this to ruin the kid's life," said Larry Romboski Jr., Mr. Romboski's son. After reaching the teenager, Mr. Romboski gave his forgiveness.

The kindness that Mr. Romboski showed in that instance was typical of him, his children and colleagues said. His philosophy was encapsulated in one of his favorite sayings: "You get what you give."

Lawrence "Larry" David Romboski of California, Pa., died Wednesday after a decade-long struggle with myeloma, a cancer of the blood.

Mr. Romboski was born in Washington, Pa., and in 1959 graduated from Washington & Jefferson College with a mathematics degree. That year, he married Joanne Kapsi.

After serving as a lieutenant in the Army for three years, Mr. Romboski earned master's degrees in mathematics education and statistics from Rutgers University. In 1969, he completed a Ph.D. in statistics from Rutgers.

That year, he joined the California University of Pennsylvania as an associate professor. In 1972, he became a full professor, teaching statistics. He remained at the university until his retirement in 2002.

Several of Mr. Romboski's colleagues said he was known for being helpful to his students and his fellow professors.

"He was a really great guy, very kind," said Mohamed Benbourenane, a fellow professor in the department. "He helped a lot of other folks on campus."

Another colleague from the university, John Kallis, is still grateful to Mr. Romboski for helping him with his dissertation shortly after they met in 1984. They became good friends, playing on the same team in two-on-two basketball games for years.

In his decades of teaching, Mr. Romboski only missed three days of work, Larry Romboski Jr. said.

"He would never let the students out early," he said. "He said, 'I want to give them their money's worth.' "

Mr. Romboski had many hobbies, including reading and gardening. Most of all, he excelled at basketball, playing varsity at Washington & Jefferson College all four years he spent there. In 1956, he scored 43 points in one game, setting a school record that still stands.

He also enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren, taking them to sporting events and to the theater.

More than a decade after his retirement, Mr. Romboski maintained a presence on the California University campus through an endowment set up by him and his wife.

Mr. Romboski is survived by his wife, Joanne; two daughters, Joyce McKnight of Venetia and Lynn Messman of Georgetown, Mass.; one son, Larry Romboski Jr. of Cranberry; and five grandchildren.

Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. today in St. Thomas Aquinas Church, California.


Richard Webner: rwebner@post-gazette.com or 412-263-4903.


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