2015 Distinguished Alumni Honoree
Mr. Robert L. Dean, Jr., ’49
Robert Dean was born in the small town of Byars, Oklahoma, in McClain County. At an early age, with the help and encouragement of his father, he raised Hereford cattle.
At 15, he realized his ambition of going to Oklahoma Military Academy. He was well suited to military life, and at the Academy he was a member of the Rifle Team and band. He gave piano concerts for visiting schools.
After three years at OMA and a year at the University of Oklahoma, he won an appointment to West Point. There, his experience on the OMA Rifle Team served him well as he became a member of the West Point National Championship Team. While on the rifle team, he met his future wife, Helen Lothringer, the U.S. Women’s Champion.
Following graduation, he entered the Air Force and became a pilot near the end of the Korean War. After four years, eye problems caused him to be grounded. Reluctantly, he left the Air Force and went to work on Wall Street. After two years, he moved to Mexico City and began work as a financial consultant. He became editor and publisher of “Mexletter”, Mexico’s prestigious financial publication. While in Mexico he gave numerous piano concerts and was selected the country’s outstanding Jazz musician by Sucesos magazine.
A birthday gift of a few pounds of clay from his wife began what was to become a remarkable career in the arts. After winning national awards in sculpture, he realized that art was indeed his calling. He decided to leave the finance business and move to Florence, Italy, to continue to pursue his new dream of becoming an artist.
Shortly after arriving in Florence, he organized the American community and founded the American Society to foster cultural and educational interchange between Americans and their Italian hosts. He became the first president of the Society. His principal work has been portrait sculptures, many of which are of illustrious military figures including Eisenhower, MacArthur, Patton, Bradley, Rickenbacker, de Gaulle, and The Night Sentry that memorializes the Revolutionary War patriots. There are five monumental statues of Eisenhower, two of which are in London and Normandy.
In recent years he began to work more in music and theater. His first play was produced in London, and he has also written two musicals. He continues to sculpt and to compose and write for the theater.