Robert (Robbie) Thomas Schlageter, a junior at the University of Rhode Island, was halfway through two semesters as an exchange student at the University of East Anglia in England. A history major with a journalism minor, he had finished the semester early and was sightseeing in Central Europe. His girlfriend of four years, Marion Menzies, received a letter from Robbie the day after the crash. Included was a photograph showing his new beard—a Christmas surprise. "I had been counting the days-114—since Rob left. We had been making plans for my visit to England during spring break." At Pilgrim High School, Robbie was involved in the Academic Decathlon. He won five metals in 1985. According to friends and teachers, the decathlon helped his self-confidence. "He was always talking about it. It definitely changed him, he became more outgoing and that came from excelling."
Robbie was the youngest of the seven children born to James and Norma Schlageter. His siblings are James, Gary, David, Patricia, Gail, and Sandra. The family belongs to the Christadelphian Church in Cranston, which is modeled after the gatherings of the first century Christians. David Pride, secretary and arranging brother at the church, said at the service, "Robbie had the strength to be interested in the world around him. His personality was such that he could have fun with the little things that make life special, but he always remained true to his belief in the principles of the word of God."
A family member, Richard Schlageter, wrote a poem in memory of Robbie that was published in the Warwick Beacon. Its final portion is a loving farewell:
In my walk through arboreal nights
I find no enemies
Winter eyes sparkle in a velvet sky.
A whispering chill, a beckoning home
I am not fearful of where I've been.
Before the clutch of clearing warmth
before I leave the wood
a last glance into the abyss
it is there, a lovely encounter.
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