By Hunter Garza
Robert Felder, a father, grandfather and economics professor, loved putting a smile on people’s faces and entertaining. His passion for his students radiated at all times. He died on Saturday, March 7, at age 80 from a heart attack. He will be remembered by students and colleagues for his positive attitude and his dedication to teaching.
Felder held a master’s degree in business administration from Sam Houston State University. He was an employee at the Dallas County Community College District for 53 years and taught at Eastfield for 50.
“I never wanted to be anything but a teacher,” Felder said in a 2015 interview with The Et Cetera “That’s what Eastfield was able to do for me, and that’s why I’ve enjoyed it.”
Felder, along with Carl Knight, Mary Forrest and Bob Whisnant, was one of the last four Eastfield charter faculty members remaining from the charter group of Eastfield from 1970.
“He was a wonderful man who loved helping others,” speech professor Mary Forrest said. “He was always someone you could count on. Everyone loved him, no doubt about it.”
Accounting Professor Regina Brown worked with Felder since 2008 and was his office neighbor.
Hanging in her office is a pamphlet from the 2019 fall convocation which features Felder singing into a microphone as a member of an employee band for the Eastfield Rhapsody video.
“Let me sign that for you,” Brown recalls Felder saying. “It might be worth a lot of money someday.”
Video courtesy of Eastfield College
Brown remembers Felder as the nicest and most consistent person from day one, “all heart,” she said.
“Every day he’d come in, push the door open and say, ‘Hey girl, how you doin’?’ and give me a hug and a kiss,” Brown said.
Carl Knight, another member of the charter faculty group, remembers him as a very talented person who had a great sense of humor.
“One of our favorite things to do was talk about the good old days back in the ‘70s,” Knight said. “That’s what we were doing the Friday before it happened. Talking about how much the school has changed since we are both one of the last few remaining. We would always joke about who would go next, but I never thought it would be him.”
Even his RateMyProfessor profile mentions how amazing and amusing he was.
“His lectures will make you enjoy Economics as much as you disliked it in high school,” one commenter said. “The difference a teacher can make is amazing. Professor Felder loves what he does … Questions, answers, jokes, stories, he’s got them all!”
Felder was known for his magnetic personality and how much he loved helping his students. Back in 2017 he took a group of students to Mesquite Social Services where they donated 4,206 pounds of food they had collected.
Getting to know his students and make his lectures relatable were some of the reasons his students would name him their favorite professor ever.
“He reminds me of the ideal grandpa,” one of his students, Cynthia Martinez, said. “Humorous, a bit awkward, and talks on and on about random things.”
Frequently he would be seen sitting and talking with students in the Hive, even if they weren’t a student in his class.
“He had a knack for interacting with people and investing in them,” STEM Executive Dean Jess Kelly said. “One of the biggest blessings was getting to know him and call him a friend.”
Felder was born on Dec. 4, 1939, in Port Arthur, Texas and is the third son of Kermit and Celeste Miller Felder. He is survived by his wife Bettie Felder; son Randy Felder; daughter Kristina Compton and eight grandchildren.