‘He Loved the People, the Campus’ With AM-Hostages Bjt
Undated (AP) _ Robert Polhill visited Beirut on business trips for an accounting firm and fell in love with the country, his mother recalled.
He returned as an assistant professor of business studies at Beirut University College. On Jan. 24, 1987, he and three other academics were kidnapped by gunmen posing as policemen.
Polhill, 55, had lived in Lebanon for four years with his second wife, Ferial, who is Lebanese.
His mother, Ruth Polhill, a retired high school librarian who resides in Fishkill, N.Y., said her son visited Lebanon on one of his first business trips for a New York City accounting firm.
″It was very beautiful,″ she recalled. ″He loved the people. He loved the campus.″
Polhill, a diabetic who requires daily medication, attended Cornell University and graduated from New York University in 1961, after which he began work as a New York accountant. He was described as a photography buff, an avid New York Giants fan and a committed educator.
″We are a family that’s been touched by teaching,″ said Polhill’s aunt, Lois Bird of East Rochester, N.Y.
Polhill had two children from a previous marriage - Steven, of New York City and Brian, a student at the State University of New York at Binghamton.
His mother said he told her he was not fearful living on the Beirut campus. ″Now that’s what he tells his mother,″ she said. ″He had all the confidence he’s be safe on the Beirut campus.″
Said son Brian: ″We knew it (kidnapping) was a possibility, but it wasn’t something he put a big accent on. He was extremely careful. He kept a low profile.″