It was in the early 1980’s and Jilda’s first trip to New York City. We were there visiting our friend Keith Watson and pitching songs to a record producer. We called up Tim Robinson, a fellow graduate from Dora High School Class of 1961 just to say hello. He sounded delighted to hear from us and asked us to meet him for dinner that evening. We both agreed and found ourselves at a quaint little restaurant in Soho which had tables with white tablecloths and real napkins. They served warm fresh baked bread. I ordered sweet tea and the waiter looked at me as though I had a railroad spike stuck through my head. Tim looked at the waiter and said we are all from Alabama and the waiter nodded his head with understanding. We didn’t get sweet tea, but I did have my very first cappuccino.
We had a wonderful dinner and talked about what was going on in our lives. We told him about what we were trying to do in our music quest and he talked some about his life. At that time, he was Editor and Chief of the National Law Journal, which was the largest selling journal in America, read by lawyers. In short, Tim was a very successful and important person and he was sitting there with Jilda and me talking about the old school.
After dinner, we walked around the city for a while and he told us places to go and things to see before we left town. It was an extraordinary evening.
We have kept in touch with Tim through the years and he was always very kind to us. He was a big supporter of the DoraHighSchool.com website. I asked him several months ago about doing a profile on him but he was a little hesitant. I got the distinct feeling that he did not want to appear to brag. I thought his story would be an inspiration to the kids coming along. He did agree to let me do the story, but with his move from California to D.C. it got put on the back burner.
Tim was the son of Clarence and Edith Robinson, both were teachers at Dora. He has three brothers, Nelson, Gerald, and Michael and one sister Terah Sherer.
Tim was only 58 years old, but he crammed a lot of living into those years. He started out as a reporter for The Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper in the 60’s and attended Walker College. He moved on to work at the Birmingham Post Herald as an assistant state editor and also worked as a reporter and photographer for the United Press International news service.
When I did the story last year about remembering the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Tim sent me a note about his memories of that awful day.
He went on to graduate from Samford University, in Birmingham and he received a master’s degree in communications from American University and a master’s in studies of law from Yale University.
He moved to Washington in the late 1960s to be a speechwriter for Agriculture Secretary Orville Freeman. In 1968, he became editor of the Washington Examiner, a short-lived experiment in newspaper publishing by D.C. Transit owner O. Roy Chalk.
Tim joined The Washington Post as assistant city editor in 1969 and later was night city editor and day city editor. He began covering federal courts in 1973 and was assigned to the Watergate trials. He also did investigative reporting on judicial and police corruption and national security matters and wrote about developments in the legal field. He wrote a weekly column on lawyers for the Washington Business section. He also served as chair of the Newspaper Guild unit at the newspaper.
In 1989, after his stint in New York, Tim moved to California where he
Became editor and associate publisher of the Los Angeles Daily Journal. He went to work with Excite in 1995 just as the Internet was taking off. Tim worked on the cutting edge of technology and publishing and appeared on televisions shows such as Today, Larry King Live and McLaughlin.
Tim and his wife, Janet Andrew, operated a media-consulting firm. He also lectured on legal and media topics. His interests included the piano, singing and New Orleans cuisine.
He recently moved to Washington D.C. to take a position with Time Warner AOL. He was diagnosed with cancer a short time later and died from complications from surgery.
Tim Robinson is a great example of how someone from a small town can make a big difference in the world. He meant a lot to Jilda and me and I can tell you he will be missed.
NOTE: Parts of this story appeared originally in The Washington Post.