In Remembrance: Joseph Olin Robinson ’57 Died on February 21 2017

Joseph Olin Robinson, 81, of Rincón, Puerto Rico, passed away peacefully February 21, 2017, after battling lung cancer for over a year.

Joe was born on October 27, 1935, in Homestead, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh.  He learned to swim in the pool at the Homestead Carnegie Library and went on to be an All American swimmer at Homestead High School, winning many state and national titles. In 1951, he received the John T. Taylor Memorial award for the Top Athlete of the Tri-State area.  When he was 15 years old he placed third in the AAU National Championship, having been beaten by two college-age Olympians.

Despite his grueling swimming routine at Homestead HS, Joe maintained a well-rounded lifestyle, participating in drama and musical performances, as well as being voted senior class president.  Joe was the first in his family to attend college, and he only wanted to attend one: Yale, where he swam under the guidance of Yale’s famous swimming coach, Bob Kiphuth.  Joe was voted captain of the Yale freshman swim team, and also helped create and captain the first intercollegiate water polo team in the United States.  He was also a member of a world record relay team and an All-American swimmer.

After receiving his civil engineering degree from Yale, where he participated in ROTC, Joe joined the US Air Force and was sent to France, where he met and married his first wife, Montserrat (mother of his two children, Sabrina and Joseph), and also coached the Air Force swim team and sang in the Air Force choir.

Upon returning to Pittsburgh in 1960, he went to work for US Steel.  After a few years, he moved to the Dravo Corporation and was sent to work on projects in Australia and Argentina.  In 1972 he moved to Madison, New Jersey, where he worked for Exxon Research and Engineering, where one of his projects was living in Alaska while working on the pipeline.  He also swam with the NJ Masters, earning five NJ Masters medals and a national AAU Masters medal.  Joe was also a Mason for over 50 years, both in Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico.

When he was 50 years old Joe decided to change careers and became a professor of engineering at County College of Morris in New Jersey, where he was nominated for professor of the year for creating a class that taught computer-aided drafting (CAD) to physically disabled students.  In 1998 Joe moved to Rincón, Puerto Rico, and taught engineering and CAD at the University of Puerto Rico until he retired in 2014 at the age of 79. Needless to say, Joe loved teaching, and the wonderful outdoor life in PR made it very easy for him to work for such a long time.

Joe loved music, and was always singing, dancing, or playing the guitar, piano, or accordion.  He also loved telling jokes and especially loved puns. He enjoyed traveling and visited every continent except for Antarctica, and even lived on four different continents: North and South America, Europe, and Australia.  Joe was also a “rabid” (pun intended) animal lover and enjoyed sharing his life with many dogs and cats.  However, he always said that his greatest achievement was raising his two children, Sabrina Robinson Luy of Stratham, New Hampshire, and Joseph David Robinson of Springfield, Virginia. He was also a proud grandfather to Jack and Sebastian Luy.

His greatest joy and best friend for 40 years was his wife Kathryn. They met when Kathryn signed up for canoeing lessons through the Appalachian Mountain Club and Joe was her instructor.  They enjoyed sharing many adventures on and under the water and on the land: hiking, camping, canoeing, sailing, skiing, and SCUBA diving, while cruising and traveling to other states and countries.  They took the trip of a lifetime in 2011 when they visited India and Cambodia for a month.

Joe is also survived by his sister, Myrna Carol Coffey of Valrico, Florida, and his brother, William Robinson of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania, as well as nieces and nephews.

His presence will be deeply missed by his family and all that knew him.

Joe and Kathryn were in on the ground floor of the formation of the Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) when they first moved to Puerto Rico, and he loved the organization, as he loved all his dogs and cats.  So if you wish to make a donation to honor Joe’s life, you can donate to ARF,  P.  O.  Box  592,  Rincón,  PR 00677;; or check them out on Facebook.  Thank you.

—Submitted by the family.

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