Robert E. Pearlman, a global explorer, award-winning creative designer, self-taught innovator, and anthropologist whose cultural interests included Africa and Italy, died Feb. 11 at his home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico after a short illness from complications of lung cancer.

Bob had for several years divided his time, along with his wife Karol Rose, between San Miguel de Allende and Martha’s Vineyard. He first visited the Vineyard in the 1960s and kept returning for almost five decades, living there year-round from the early 2000s until 2016.

His life was an extraordinary combination of creativity, exploration, and far-flung knowledge of art, literature, technology, science, nature, music and history. He was a true renaissance man. He traveled to Africa repeatedly as part of his work with the Maasai people of Kenya, including developing an oral histories project that documented the stories of Maasai elders for the children of Kenya. His passions also took him into the waters off the coast of Italy where he and a friend, a veteran coral freediver, discovered a Greek shipwreck from circa 175 BC and recovered several intact pieces of ancient pottery.

He was born on Sept. 16, 1939, in Boothwyn, Pa., one of six children of Max and Ruth Pearlman, and grew up in Carmel, N.Y. where his family owned the Carmel Diner. He and his siblings worked at the diner on weekends. He graduated from Carmel High School and enrolled in the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, but left within a year to work as a medical illustrator at Smith, Kline & French (GlaxoSmithKline). During this time he met and married his first wife, Ruth Himelfarb. They had two children, Scott and Ilana.

In 1963 he joined a small advertising agency in Connecticut. Soon he moved his young family to New York city, where he worked as designer, writer and producer for companies including IBM, Life Magazine, MGM, Loews Hotels, Random House, and Xerox. He also produced a weekly film criticism radio program on WBAI-FM, and lectured at Marymount College, where, in partnership with Lincoln Center, he started the first and still ongoing Loyola Marymount Film Festival.

In 1970, he and his family moved to southern Italy where for two years he focused on writing and scuba diving. After returning to New York, Bob spent a decade as president of Cavalieri Kleier Pearlman, an ad agency with a client roster that included Jacques Cousteau. During this time he met and married his second wife, Gail Ash. They had two children, Ashley and Alex.

Bob’s work consistently won attention and awards. Some of his proudest moments came from his work with not-for-profit organizations. In 1989 he was retained by the United States Agency for International Development to develop a strategic marketing campaign for the country of Botswana to attract industry and tourism. In Botswana he met his third wife, Karol Rose.

In 1991, he joined Hadassah, the largest women’s volunteer organization in America, as creative director. He retired in 1999.

He was a longtime fellow and board member of The Explorers Club, receiving the club’s Edward C. Sweeney Memorial Medal in 1998.

He was predeceased by his parents; brothers Donald Pearlman and David (Butch) Pearlman; and his son Scott.

He is survived by his wife of 31 years, Karol Rose of San Miguel de Allende; daughters Ilana Pearlman and her husband, Todd Wieseler of Nederland, Colo, and Ashley Pearlman, and son Alex Pearlman, both of New York,; stepson Michael Rose and his wife, Heidi Hoover, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; stepson Richard Rose and his wife Lisa of Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.; sisters Lenore (Lyn) Lundberg and her husband Ed of Carmel, N.Y.; and Carol Madden and her husband Peter of Lake Carmel, N.Y.; brother Eugene (Skip) Pearlman of Hopewell Junction, N.Y.; and five grandchildren, along with many cherished relatives and friends, and his beloved dog Rusty.

Donations can be made to The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.