Dr. Robert Baboian, corrosion scientist and long-time volunteer to SSBCFI, dies at 80
Corrosion scientist and long-time volunteer to San Sebastian Basilica Conservation Foundation most widely known as a chief figure in the Statue of Liberty National Monument restoration, his work with NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration and contribution to corrosion engineering as author and editor of over 13 books and 150 technical publications. With heavy but grateful hearts, we say goodbye to our friend, Dr. Robert Baboian.
Four years ago, we cold-called him and emailed a brief – our dream to conserve this basilica. We knew then we couldn’t afford him, but hoped to fundraise for his fee. We ended our long phone conversation with a sheepish “So do you think can we look forward to a proposal from you?” To our surprise, he answered gently “What you have over there is an amazing building, and what you are all trying to do is commendable — but also quite ambitious. So if you’ll have me, i’d like to volunteer.”
For a year, Dr. Baboian would guide our work methodically, patiently, and efficiently as we navigated the complex world of corrosion protection. A year later, we received a large grant from the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation and suggested we begin his compensation. He insisted on remaining a volunteer. “It is an emotional experience to see the beauty of the basilica and the extent of the degradation and the work that needs to be done.”
We remember him well for his dedication to a cause he has experienced only remotely, working with professionals he has never met. It is our great fortune and privilege to have received his counsel, which he offered generously, humbly, and with much kindness.