Robert Mark Jaffe, born May 17, 1953, in New York City, N.Y., died July 16, 2010, in Davis after a determined battle with primary amyloidosis. Raised in northern New Jersey and Wheaton, Ill., he was the first child of Herbert and Evelyn Jaffe.
From an early age, Robert showed promise in the arts, playing the trombone in a local band known as The Echo, before focusing his talent on becoming an actor. He received a bachelor's degree in English and drama from Kenyon College, and went on receive a master's degree in theater administration from the Yale School of Drama in 1978.
After graduate school, he worked as managing director for the Viola Farber Dance Company in New York City. He later joined the Spreckel's Theater in San Diego, before moving to Sacramento in 1979, to become the managing director of the Sacramento Theater Company. He was then hired by the California Arts Council as its program officer, and served on a committee established by legislation passed in 1982 to create 'an educational environment for young California artists.' This effort led to legislation in 1985, authored by state Sen. John Garamendi, and signed into law by Gov. George Deukmejian, establishing the California State Summer School for the Arts (InnerSpark). The stated objectives of the school were:
n To enable artistically gifted and talented students, broadly representative of the socioeconomic and ethnic diversity of the state, to receive intensive training in the arts through a multidisciplinary program;
n To provide a training ground for future artists who may wish to study and practice the arts or to pursue careers in the major performing arts companies and the commercial and fine arts institutions in California; and
n To establish the California State Summer School Arts Foundation, a model for partnership between the public and private sectors.
The development and sustenance of CSSSA became the 'masterwork' of Jaffe's life, as he served as its director for the past 24 years. The school has trained more than 11,000 highly talented students. Its graduates include many of California's most successful actors, musicians, dancers and artists. His admonition to all the students who passed through the program was, 'Go far - stay close!'
In 1981, he married Eileen (nee Hall) of Sacramento. Together they created a family with two children, Sarah, born in 1983, and Ethan, born in 1989, and moved to Davis in 1990. In addition to his wife and children, Rob is survived by his parents, Herbert and Evelyn, of Pompton Plains, N.J.; sister, Carole Felsenstein, her husband Frank and children Kenny and Joanna, of Morristown, N.J.; and brother, Chuck Jaffe and his wife Susan, and daughters Thomson and Whitney, of Cohasset, Mass.
In addition he was cherished by members of his wife Eileen's family, Bob Hall Sr. , Dori Hall, (deceased); Bob Hall Jr. and wife, Emily, and sons Adam and Andrew, and his wife, Jen; Melinda Poppler and daughters Erin and Chowning; Lisa Hall and Bill Arnold.
Rob is remembered for his many contributions to the community, as a former co-president of Congregation Bet Haverim of Davis, for his support of the Cosmos Program at Sacramento State University, and his work with the Surdna Foundation of New York.
A funeral service will begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday, July 21, at Congregation Bet Haverim, 1715 Anderson Road, Davis, followed by interment at the Davis Cemetery, 820 Pole Line Road. A reception will be at the Bet Haverim Social Hall after the burial.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the California State Summer School for the Arts, 7801 Folsom Blvd., Suite 104, Sacramento, CA 95825, or to the Stanford University Amyloid Center, Research Fund for Dr. Ronald Witteles, Falk CV Research Center, 300 Pasteur Drive, Stanford, CA 94305-5406.