Bob Friedman passed on January 7, 2019 from a rare and very rapid illness, spontaneous Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). A memorial celebration was held April 13, 2019 in Virginia Beach, Virginia; please visit this page for the original notice, and links to the videos presented at the event. You are invited to sign the guestbook if you would like to leave a memory or a message for family. You can find mailing addresses at the bottom of this page.
Robert S. Friedman, born February 15, 1942, lived a long and peaceful life devoted to inspiring the best in others. He passed away without pain on January 7, 2019 in his mountain home near Charlottesville, Virginia, surrounded by the trees and hills of the town he treasured. During his surprise illness—a very rare and rapid neurodegenerative prion disease—Robert (called Bob by those close to him) was tenderly taken care of by his beloved Beth Hines and visited often by his friends and adoring family. He was a man of deep spiritual conviction who showed love and generosity towards everyone in his life, as well as those in need. A sophisticated man of letters, Bob devoted his professional life to publishing books that would provide help and enlightenment to his readers. He is survived by Beth, his sister Diane Bienstock (Steve); his four children: Jonathan & Matthew (with Donna Reiss) and Marc & Sophia (with Kathleen Shaffer); his cousin Leonard Baker (Sara Sgarlat), and many other loved cousins and extended family. A memorial celebration is being planned for April; for details, updates, and family contact information, please visit www.bobfriedman.net.
Bob had as many accomplishments as he had years: he was a proud graduate of the University of Virginia (whose long-overdue bowl victory was a happy moment shared with fellow Hoos during his final days), and a member of AEπ. He founded three publishing companies, was a published writer, a teacher, a fine amateur photographer, a film producer, and a much-admired husband and father. He earned his M.F.A. in Writing from UNC Greensboro, and completed two years of graduate studies at University College of Swansea of the University of Wales. He was managing editor for Metro Hampton Roads and proposed the tabloid which later became PortFolio Magazine. For many years he helped organize the Virginia Festival of the Book, where he often served as a moderator and panelist.
Bob pioneered several genres of books, including the graphic novel and the pictorial history. He founded the Donning Company Publishers in 1974 with his wife Donna and his friend Fred Jordan, named by combining Donna’s name with that of Fred’s wife Ingrid. Joined thereafter by the late Stan Hainer, he published revered pictorial histories of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and dozens more, then launched a science-fiction/fantasy line, Starblaze Editions, where he worked with or launched some of the great artists, authors, and titles of the genre, including Robert Asprin (Myth Adventures), Kelly Freas, and many more. With Donning and Starblaze, Bob was one of the fathers of the graphic novel, with the Elfquest series being the first breakthrough success bridging the gap between specialty comic stores and mainstream bookstores. His foresight paved the way for graphic novels as a respected (and Pulitzer Prize-winning) literary form.
Bob formed Hampton Roads Publishing Company in 1989 with Frank DeMarco, and worked with such luminaries as Neale Donald Walsch (author of the Conversations with God series), Richard Bach (author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull and The Messiah’s Handbook), Eckhart Tolle (with whom he co-wrote a children’s book), and Linda Goodman, and discovered many critically-acclaimed novelists of the new Visionary Fiction genre such as D.S. Lliteras, Monty Joynes, and Vernon Kitabu Turner. After a brief struggle with retirement, he founded Rainbow Ridge Books, which is now carried on by his surviving family. All in all, Bob published over 1000 books in over 30 languages, including many international bestsellers. He also wrote several screenplays, co-produced the documentary iGod, and recently had his book with Eckhart Tolle, Milton’s Secret, adapted into a motion picture starring Donald Sutherland.
In all his endeavors, Bob inspired love and loyalty from others. His quiet, gentle good humor and spirit of endless acceptance won him a lifetime of admirers who will all miss him more than even a published writer could express—and if they could, Bob would surely have been the one to publish them.
If you wish to contact the family by mail, you may address letters to the family in care of:
140 Rainbow Ridge Rd
Faber, VA 22938
Other individual addresses:
1056 Commodore Dr
Virginia Beach, VA 23454
310 Idlewood Ave
Portsmouth, VA 23704
Katie Shaffer, Marc Friedman, & Sophie Friedman
1425 Jeffers Rd
Towson, MD 21204
8465 N Canta Bello Rd
Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
You may also email the family at: family AT bobfriedman DOT net