In 1955 he moved to Fallbrook when his parents, Wilbur and Marian Mackey, purchased the Fallbrook Enterprise newspaper. The Mackey family held the newspaper, which was founded in 1911, for 33 years before selling it to Escondido Times Advocate in 1988.
He graduated from Fallbrook Union High School in 1959 and then attended Palomar Junior College where he excelled as a student, joined the debate team, and won national honors in debate and public speaking.
Graduating with honors from Stanford University in 1965, Robert studied at Brandeis University for his doctorate before leaving to join his fellow Stanford student Carl Mitcham to co-author the book, Philosophy and Technology.
Robert lived in Kentucky for 30 years, then settled in Virginia before returning to Fallbrook in 2011.
He is survived by his brother, Charles, and three nephews Simon, Eliot and Jeffrey and a niece Carla.