Raymond (Ray) Henry Robinson, of Wellesley, Massachusetts passed away peacefully in his home on August 30, 2020. He was 93. He is survived by his sister, Rachel Favuzza, niece Gloria Favuzza, nephew Jeffrey E. Favuzza all of Bellefonte, PA, niece Linda Favuzza Klein of Rancho Mirage, CA, and nephews John G. Robinson and Steven B. Robinson, both of whom reside in California. He was pre-deceased by a brother, Rear Admiral Rembrandt C. Robinson, USN (1924 –1972) and sister Marilyn (Marley) Robinson (1934-2010). Ray also leaves behind many Robinson and Bailey cousins.
Ray is also survived by his dear friends whom he loved as family, Theodore L. and Lisa C. Doherty, of Natick, MA, and his three godsons, Jack R., Aidan S., and Theo P. Doherty, and Peter and Melanie Chamberlin of Westford, MA.
Ray was born on July 23, 1927 to Isaac H. Robinson and Helen Bailey Robinson in Clearfield, PA. When he was a 9 year old third-grader, Ray became fascinated with a bulletin board collection celebrating George Washington’s life, and consequently began collecting Washington memorabilia and art. When he informed his high school history teacher that he wanted teach history like her, she responded “No, you will be a college professor.” That became his ambition.
He earned BA (1949) and MA (1950) degrees from Pennsylvania State University and received his PhD from Harvard University in 1958 at which point he was already teaching history at Northeastern University. After a brief stint at Northwestern in Chicago, he returned to Northeastern in 1961. While at Northeastern he served as the Chair of the History Department for decades and served as the Commencement Marshal for many years. Ray’s love and passion for history, combined with his deep interest in his students as people, made him an extraordinary teacher. Ray wanted his students, friends, and everyone he met to recognize the importance history had in understanding our world and encouraged us all to be involved in shaping its future. When he retired in June of 2012 at the age of 84, he had taught for 53 years and was the longest serving professor at Northeastern University. Ray estimated that he taught over 25,000 students during his amazing 57 years of teaching.
Ray was also committed to music. He first studied piano at the St. Francis Convent in Clearfield, PA and then at Penn State, where he also played the organ. This led to a lifetime interest in the study of music. He was a church organist most of his adult life and served as organist at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in Framingham for 25 years.
Ray’s first passion was people. His social aptitude and generous nature resulted in friendships with thousands of people. His joy in speaking with a U.S. Senator was the same as with his gas station attendant, his grocery clerk, or his toll taker. He knew them all by name. His positive influence on others was immeasurable. Ray spent his life sharing the personal and academic stories that shaped him and his knowledge of the world, and he was interested in hearing the stories of those around him. For those fortunate to have known him, his love for us made our lives so much better. He will be greatly missed.
A celebration of Ray Robinson’s life will be held at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Framingham, MA and Trinity Church, Clearfield, PA at a later date. His cremated remains will be laid to rest at Crown Crest Memorial Park, Hyde, PA.
Please make memorial contributions to the Joseph and Elizabeth Shaw Public Library, 1 South Front Street, Clearfield, PA 16830. Ray, the budding scholar, loved libraries and spent a lot of time at the Shaw library. He believed deeply in supporting all libraries, but Shaw was his first.