Robert F. Dunn, 86, of Drexel Hill, emeritus professor of English at St. Joseph's University, died Saturday, Nov. 28, of pneumonia at Chester County Hospital.

Dr. Dunn taught at St. Joseph's for 39 years. He was best known for leading seminars entitled "Writing Across the Curriculum." The program was offered through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The sessions, attended by St. Joseph's faculty as well as deans and other administrators, put the university's writing programs on the map outside the institution.

"What is striking about my father is the way, through his teaching, he touched the lives of so many students. He was known for his sense of humor, kindness, and patience with everyone he dealt with," his daughter Mary Dunn Lombardi said.

Dr. Dunn wrote scholarly papers and articles for newspapers and professional journals.

He was elected president of the Delaware Valley Writing Council and in that role presided over conferences at local universities and beyond.

Born in Kensington to Regina Foley and Ebenezer Louden Dunn, Mr. Dunn appeared just before the stock market crash of 1929.

A gifted student who rose from humble circumstances, Dr. Dunn graduated from Northeast Catholic High School. He was disabled by polio, and the disease kept him from serving in the military at the end of World War II.

He earned a bachelor's degree in English from what was then St. Joseph's College, a master's degree from Notre Dame University, and a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania.

While attending college, he worked at the old Singer sewing machine factory to pay his tuition.

In retirement at Kendall Crosslands, he stayed sharp and engaged in life. Dr. Dunn read widely and prepared book reviews for fellow seniors.

His daughter, an only child, said Dr. Dunn was thrilled when she and her husband had lots of children, including two sets of twins.

"My father helped in countless ways with the children, always encouraging their academic development and sharing his humorous and creative approach to life," she said.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his wife of 55 years, Margaret Schade Dunn; six grandchildren; and a sister.

Services were Friday, Dec. 4.

Contributions in his memory may be made to St. Joseph's University, Advancement Office, 5600 City Ave., Philadelphia 19131.