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Robert S. Rainwater

March 11, 2021
Robert S. Rainwater
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Obituary for Robert S. Rainwater
After a long illness Robert Stephen Rainwater, 72, died peacefully at his home in Providence on March 11, 2021.

Robert was born in New York City on July 27, 1948, the son of Leo James and Emma Louise (Smith) Rainwater. His father, a physicist at Columbia University, shared the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Robert grew up in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York where he graduated from high school in 1966. He attended Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, graduating in 1970 with a degree in physics. Afterwards, he attended Teachers College at Columbia, graduating in 1972. Upon graduation, Robert embarked on a career teaching high school physics. After spending 12 years in the Connecticut public school system, he moved to Rhode Island where he taught at Portsmouth Abbey School for 30 years, until his retirement in 2015. A passionate and dedicated teacher, his family can recall his many late nights devoted to figuring out some better way to present some particular aspect of the subject that he felt his students were struggling to understand.

In addition to his work, Robert was an avid gardener. He enjoyed biking, often cycling the 54-mile round trip from his former home in Barrington, RI to Portsmouth Abbey School. A voracious reader, he consumed science fiction, fantasy and the classics. He also displayed his artistic temperament with, among other things, his elaborate sand castles in the summer, gingerbread houses at Christmastime, and a privet hedge maze in his yard.

A loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle, Robert is survived by his husband, Lewis Seifert, Providence; his daughters: Sarah Rainwater (Guy), Providence, Nellie Rainwater (Justin), Riverside and Emma Rainwater (Naomi), Honeoye Falls, NY; his grandchildren: Oliver Michaud, Thomas Michaud, Alexander Uhr, Autumn Uhr and Norah Rainwater; his former wife, Jean Rainwater, Providence; his brother William (Debra), Highland Park, NJ and his nephews and niece, Noah, Jake and Julie. Robert is predeceased by his parents, his brother, James, and sister, Elizabeth.

Robert’s remains will be interred in the family plot in New York. A memorial service is planned for this summer. Donations in Robert’s memory may be made to the American Kidney Fund (
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