Robert Waller

Economics Professor/Author

                         Robert Waller March 10, 2017 CEDAR FALLS – Best-selling “The Bridges of Madison County” author Robert James Waller, formerly of Cedar Falls, has died. Waller, 77, who resided in Fredericksburg, Texas, died Thursday at his home from complications of pneumonia and multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells, according to his longtime friend Scott Cawelti of Cedar Falls. Funeral arrangements have not been announced. Waller was born Aug. 1, 1939, in Rockford. He was married to Linda Bow Waller. He is survived by one daughter, Rachael, from a previous marriage. He was married to Georgia Wiedemeier; they divorced in 1997. “It’s a sad thing … but he said he’d had a helluva life — more than he ever expected to happen to chicken farmer’s son from Rockford, Iowa,” said Cawelti. “He’s sort of iconic for Iowa. He really made it big — 50 million books sold worldwide, a great movie with major stars, a Broadway show. That’s a whole new level of making it big. Robert became a touchstone for people.” The author taught economics and decision theory at the University of Northern Iowa for 22 years and served six years as business school dean. He graduated from UNI in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree, and his master’s degree in 1968. “Bridges” has sold more than 50 million copies worldwide and is published in 40 languages. It spent more than three years on the New York Times bestsellers list. In 2014, a Tony award-winning Broadway musical opened in New York City. Prior to “Bridges,” Waller wrote three non-fiction books and a collection of personal essays. “Bridges” is the bittersweet story of National Geographic photographer Robert Kincaid and his brief but memorable affair with an Iowa farm wife. In 2015, Waller donated the original manuscript of “Bridges” to his alma mater. The manuscript contains the author’s personal notes and annotations and was originally published in 1992. It is housed in the Rod Library’s special collections and university archives at UNI. In 2012, Waller made a seven-figure gift to his alma mater. The exact amount was not disclosed. “UNI allowed me to explore my intellectual interests and my tastes, as a student, a professor and a dean,” Waller said in a Courier interview at the time. “As a professor, UNI provided me room to experiment with courses and course content; and as the first dean of the business school, to have some influence on the direction of the university. I am pleased to lend support to my alma mater and to help it grow as a first-class university.” The gift was directed as the Robert James Waller Scholarship in Economics, an annually funded full tuition and fees scholarship for a student majoring in economics; the Robert James Waller Professorship in Economics, the Robert James Waller College of Business Faculty Enrichment fund and the Charles T. Leavitt Scholarship in Economics. He also provided support for jazz scholarships and Honors Program. Waller published additional bestsellers, including “Slow Waltz at Cedar Bend” in 1993, followed by “Border Music” and “Puerto Vallarta Squeeze.” “A Thousand County Roads — An Epilogue to The Bridges of Madison County” was published in 2002, followed by “High Plains Tango.” Copyright 2017 by the Waterloo/Cedar Falls Courier