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Robert James Waller (August 1, 1939 – March 10, 2017) was an American author best known for The Bridges of Madison County, an enormously successful book in 1993.
He was also a photographer and musician.
Robert James Waller Jr. was born in Charles City, Iowa, and grew up in Rockford, Iowa. Waller received his BA ('62) and MA ('64) from University of Northern Iowa (then known as Iowa State Teachers College). He received his PhD in business from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University Bloomington in 1968.
Later that year he returned to UNI and began teaching management and economics, and in 1977 became a full professor. He became dean of the College of Business in 1980 and retired from that position in 1986. It was announced in 2000 that he made a "seven figure" donation to Indiana University.
Several of his books have been on the New York Times bestseller list including 1992's The Bridges of Madison County which was the top best-seller in 1993. Both that novel and his 1995 novel, Puerto Vallarta Squeeze, have been made into motion pictures.
In 1997, his marriage of 35 years to Georgia ended in divorce.
An article in People Magazine noted, "The parallels between Waller's life and his art—his Bridges heroine, farmwife Francesca, sacrifices her chance for happiness with a globe-hopping photographer in order to stay home and shield her loved ones from small-town scandal—haven't been lost on the locals".