Robert Michael Pugh

  • Born: October 2, 1944
  • Died: February 3, 2019
  • Location: Manchester, New Hampshire

Lambert Funeral Home & Crematory

1799 Elm St
Manchester, NH 03104

Tel. (603) 625-6951

Tribute & Message From The Family

It is with deep sadness that the family of Robert Michael Pugh announces that he passed away on February 3, 2019, at the age of 74, peacefully after a brief illness. Michael was surrounded in his final days by those he loved and who loved him, and passed with his sister Susan at his bedside.
Michael taught English at the University of New Hampshire Manchester for twenty-five years. He loved teaching, reading, family, friends, food, and music, especially opera and particularly Montserrat Caballe. He was beloved by his students, colleagues, friends, and family, all of whom regarded him as deeply kind, gentle man, with a tremendous sense of humor and grand intelligence. He was often amused but never at anybody else's expense. He preferred movies where people who beautiful clothes, used language, and nothing much happened.

Michael was born on October 2, 1944, in Chicago, IL. After his father returned from the war, he taught history at Eureka College in Eureka, IL, and then at the University of Illinois, Champaign, IL. Michael's love of music and drama blossomed while he was at Champaign High School when he and his friend Buddy Hedgcock would take the train to Chicago to see live performances of opera and plays.
His family lived in Illinois until he completed his junior year in high school, when they moved to Plymouth, NH. His father taught history at Plymouth State College, and his mother rented the 5 extra bedrooms in their 9 bedroom Victorian house on Webster Street to college students. Michael graduated from Plymouth High School in 1962, and was awarded a town scholarship to attend Dartmouth College, Class of 1966. He majored in English and enjoyed performing in several college theatrical productions, usually playing roles like the third spear holder on the right. He rarely got any lines despite his lifelong ability to recite vast passages from Shakespeare by heart.
It will surprise no one that knew Michael that he was a Conscientious Objector to the war in Vietnam. He served in the Peace Corps for two years in Nigeria. He remained in Nigeria for four more years, teaching at the Mayflower School in Sokoto and as the director of a camp reuniting families separated during the Biafran War. His time in Africa came to shape his whole way of life-the pace, the simplicity of living, and his deep respect and compassion for other people.
When he came home from Africa, he took a job as a caseworker at the NH State Welfare Department in Lebanon, NH, but before long he was off again, this time taking a teaching job for a year in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. This experience allowed him to appreciate that no hot and humid weather for the rest of his life would ever be as hot and humid as it was in Honduras.
He earned his master's degree in English in 1986 from William Patterson College in New Jersey, while living with his cousin Sam Plummer and his family, who were always dear to him. He returned to New Hampshire and took a job as a tour guide at Shaker Village in Canterbury, where he became warm friends with the community's last two surviving members, Eldress Bertha Lindsay and Eldress Ethel Hudson. The following year he entered a doctoral program in English at the University of New Hampshire, receiving his Ph.D. in 1994. At UNH he taught composition to students whose first languages were not English, and worked at the University's summer program with students from Shoin Women's College of Kobe, Japan. His experience with the Shakers informed his choice of dissertation subject, focusing on literature with the theme of Shakers and marriage, which he found curious because actual Shakers did not marry.
Michael moved to Manchester, NH in 1994, to teach English at St. Anselm's College and the University of New Hampshire Manchester, where he became one of their longest–serving professors. In addition to teaching literature and composition, he coordinated the ESOL Summer Program for adults and the EXCELL program (renamed EXCELL-in-STEM in 2014) for middle and high school students for more than a decade. Michael's legacy lives on through the countless number of English Language Learners he helped to make higher education accessible.
He lived with his friend Margo Burns for many years, a time of much laughter and cats who would greet him at the door only to turn away because he was "not her". Their two families were very close, sharing many holidays over the years and spending raucous multi-birthday celebrations together at the Puritan Backroom. Michael moved his mother Marian in to live with them for the final five years of her life. He continued to travel the world into his sixties and seventies, going to Bangladesh to meet the family of his nephew Jared's wife Natasha, attending the wedding of his cousin Will Plummer in France, and touring Brazil with his friends Ran and Lucia Miranda.
Michael is survived by his sister, Susan Blanchard of Loudon, NH; his nephew Caleb Yeaton and wife Marianne Schlosser of Vienna, VA; his nephew Jared Yeaton and wife Natasha Husain of Hopkinton, NH; great-niece Helen and three great-nephews Roman, Keith, and Kyle; and several cousins. He was predeceased by his father, Robert Coplin Pugh, born in Shelbyville, IL, and his mother, Marian Blanchard, born in Chicago, IL, whose family was from Peacham, VT. He was a member of the First Congregational Church, Manchester, NH.
A memorial service for family and friends to celebrate his life was held on Saturday, April 20, 2019 at the First Congregational Church, 508 Union St., Manchester, NH. The University of New Hampshire Manchester held a commemoration for students and colleagues on Friday, February 22, 2019.
In lieu of flowers, his family asks that donations be made in his memory to two charities that fight poverty around the world: Children International ( and Heifer International ( The University of New Hampshire has established a memorial gift fund in his name to provide financial support for youths, high school students, and adults in their ESOL summer programs in Manchester (


Condolence & Memory Journal

Michael and I met during my freshman year at Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee, when he spent one semester there as an exchange student. He and I became instant good friends. We lost touch after Michael headed back north, and both went on with our busy lives. Both of us eventually spent much of our time as university teachers. One evening, about three years ago, out of the blue, Michael got in touch. He had been reminiscing about Fisk, looked me up, and much to my delight, there we were, catching up on each other's adventures as though no time had passed since our friendship began so long ago. From then on, about every two or three months, one or the other of us called to catch up. Our calls were like clockwork. With no more than an elapsed three months, I would call him, or he would call me. Given all that goes on in the world, we usually talked for several hours at a time. In May, I realized we hadn't spoken in much too long. I had been especially busy, so I called and received the message that he was ill. When last we talked, he was pleased with his doctor's optimistic report, even though he had previous had serious cardiac problems. I called his office early the next morning and was told he had died! I'm still in shock. He was such a good friend, so much a scholar, a humanitarian, with the most amazing background that seemed to have needed several lifetimes to accomplish. I have never known a more honest and loving and caring person in my life. I know everyone who spent even a few seconds with him was the better for it. It is just now that I can write to you, the shock of his loss is still so hard to bear. I extend my heartfelt condolences to all of you. He continues to be a man tall among the very best of humanity! I will miss him always!

Posted by Mignon Holland Anderson - Salusbury, MD - Classmate   June 05, 2019

Michael brought joy to my life. I miss him.

Posted by Ruth Eurenius - Portsmouth, NH   March 05, 2019

Jonathan Worley & Michael Pugh, Lake Winnepesaukee (2002)

Posted by Jonathan Worley - Belfast, NI - Friend   February 11, 2019

God bless you, Michael! You led a good and virtuous life to which many of us can only aspire. I was very privileged to have Michael as the best man at my wedding, even though he said he didn't do weddings! I also spent two very enjoyable and funny summers sharing an apartment with him in Durham, New Hampshire. He was so modest about his accomplishments, but he led a life of deep service to other. He always was a man of modest needs and had a never-failing sense of humour and an innate kindness. "God rest him all road ever he offended!"

Jonathan Worley, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Posted by Jonathan Worley - Belfast, Northern Ireland - Friend   February 11, 2019

I and a number of my colleagues at Canterbury Shaker Village had the great privilege of knowing Michael as a co-worker and friend. His wonderful sense of humor, immense kindness, and deep cultural knowledge made him a sheer pleasure to know and work with. Michael will be long remembered by many people who consider themselves fortunate to have known him.

Posted by Darryl Thompson - Gilmanton Iron Works,, NH   February 11, 2019

My condolences to his family

Posted by Maria D Hunt - Merrimack, NH - Student   February 08, 2019

Michael left an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of our family and friends in Brazil. To this day, they remember him, his energy and his genuine interest in the Brazilian culture, people, food and landscape.

Posted by Ran and Lou Miranda - Brazil - Friend   February 08, 2019

This photo of Marian (Michael's mother) and Michael is from 2003. Of all the pictures I have of him, this is one of my favorites, not because it is a particularly good photo, but because she was clearly saying something silly as if it weren't silly, and he is laughing so hard that he couldn't even see -- one of the ways I will always remember him, and which I miss so much.

Posted by Margo Burns - Manchester, NH - Friend   February 08, 2019

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss of Mike. He was a lovely man, loved deeply by all of his family. I hope the memories you built together over his life will be comforting as you share them together in the days, weeks and time ahead.

Posted by Christy Dolat Bartlett - Concord, NH   February 08, 2019

Family Album