September 20, 2022
By Joe Garvey
Robert M. Stanton, former rector of Old Dominion University’s Visitors Committee, founding member and first chairman of the board of the university’s Real Estate Foundation, and one of Hampton Roads’ best known real estate developers, died September 4. He was 84.
Stanton, who was named the university’s Distinguished Alumnus in 1986, was a member of the Visiting Committee from 1981 to 1989 and rector from 1984 to 1988.
“Bob Stanton was a very dynamic principal,” said Dick Barry, who succeeded Stanton as principal. “He loved ODU and was proud of his university degree.”
This pride was evident every time he drove through the area with his “ODU 61” number plates.
“He had a great sense of humor and often commented on how he’d packed a four-year college career into a five-year experience,” added Barry.
Stanton, who received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary in 1961, also made what was then the largest planned donation of any graduate student, $1.5 million, to establish the Robert M. Stanton Chaired Professorship in Real Estate and Economic Development (CREED) in 2004. This professorship is now in the EV Williams School of Real Estate.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of this gift,” said Nancy Bagranoff, then dean of the College of Business and Public Administration. “Bob Stanton has had a wonderful relationship with the university, and the funding of CREED is consistent with the college’s mission to support economic development.”
“I hope this record doesn’t last more than 15 minutes,” said Stanton, who was one of the first board members of the university’s Educational Foundation, helping to raise the organization’s endowment value to $115 million.
Stanton began his real estate career at Goodman Segar Hogan in 1966, becoming the company’s president in 1975 and later becoming chairman. After leaving Goodman Segar Hogan, he founded Stanton Partners Inc., which focused on commercial real estate investments in Virginia and North Carolina.
He has overseen some of the region’s most notable real estate developments including Lynnhaven Mall, Greenbrier Mall, World Trade Center, Riverside Corporate Center, Harbor View and more than 30 retail centers.
His online obituary states that he was “an unwavering advocate for women in the workplace and that diversity was always a priority.” Teresa Peters, president of Stanton Partners, told The Virginian-Pilot that a few years ago, 50 women organized a luncheon in his honor.
“Many people in our community have gone on to pursue careers in the commercial real estate industry, started their own businesses or are in top leadership positions, and we all credit Bob for what he taught us,” said Peters.
His influence was also felt through his work with many community organizations, foundations, and boards. His efforts have earned him numerous honors including First Citizen of Virginia Beach, Virginia Jaycees Five Outstanding Young Men in Virginia, Tidewater Council of the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Eagle Scout, Colgate W. Darden Jr. Scouter Citizen of the Year, Downtown Norfolk Council Downtowner of the Year and Hampton Roads VOLUNTEERS Lenora Mathews Lifetime Achievement Award.
He is survived by his 41-year-old wife Eleanor; his daughter Allison McDuffie, her husband Duff, and their children Meredith and Stanton; stepchildren Jim Vail, his wife Mahala and their son Daniel; Charles Vail and his partner Courtney Chalmers; and Mary Vail and their children Jack and Eleanor; and cousins Anna Wright and Kristen Taylor.
A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. on September 21 at Christ & St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk. A reception follows at the Norfolk Yacht & Country Club.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the ACCESS College Foundation, Robert M. Stanton Scholarship Fund, 2555 Ellsmere Ave., Suite 110, Norfolk, Virginia 23513 or Old Dominion University, Robert M. Stanton Chair in Real Estate and Economic Development, 4417 Monarch Way, Suite 4113, Norfolk, Virginia 23529.