By BC Staff
Cleveland lost a trailblazer in education with the death of Walter C. Robinson Jr. Sunday.
“He came at a time when there weren’t a lot of black guys in education,” said Fredrick Ford Sr., pastor of Saint Paul M.B. Church where Robinson was a member.
Resilient, kind and organized were just a few of the words Ford used to describe Robinson.
“He used to carry a notebook in his shirt pocket and each page was dated and had a list of everything he needed to do. He’d check them off as he did them.”
Jurist Green said, “He was an extraordinary person. A fine man in our community has gone to take his rest. We certainly will miss him.
“He was well liked in the community. He supported many civil organizations in our community. He called his students, babies and boys.
“He was always upbeat even until the end. He never acted sad or complained about his health, even though he was down. He never complained. Never complained. He treated everybody the same.”
Jordan Goins said, “He served in various capacities as far as community services are concerned. Obviously he was a church worker, served on the deacon board for as long as I can remember, Sunday school teacher, Sunday school superintendent.
“From an educational perspective he came to Bolivar County from Chattanooga, TN working in the public schools in the beginning of his professional years. He served as assistant principal at East Side for a number of years and after they built East Wood Jr. High School over on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, he was the first principal in that building and he served there until he retired.
“Just a good husband, father. Just a good, community minded person. He served until he couldn’t serve anymore. He was a mentor for me,” said Goins.
Robinson, or Mr. Rob as he was known by many, was born in Chattanooga, TN, and graduated from Tennessee State University before coming to Bolivar County in the early 1950s.
He told The Bolivar Commercial in a previous story that he and his wife Lily came to Mississippi because they needed jobs and the plan was to only stay for two years.
“Those two years turned into my life here working with some great people,” said Robinson.
Robinson will forever be a part of the Cleveland School District as the career center — the Walter C. Robinson Jr. Achievement Center — is dedicated in his name.
At the dedication then Superintendent Reggie Barnes said, “The character and patience Mr. Robinson portrays – meaning when he talks, you better listen – is the type of attitude and environment that it is going to take to teach these children.
“Perseverance, understanding, hard work – these are all adjectives which describe Mr. Robinson,” said Barnes.
Robinson worked at the Cleveland Colored Consolidated School (currently Nailor Elementary) when he first arrived and also took a job as football coach.
While working with the football team, he was offered a job as principal of Beulah Elementary School.
“I opened that school up,” said Robinson. “I stayed there two years and went back to school to get a master’s from Tennessee State,” he said.
After receiving his master’s, Robinson returned to Cleveland and started work again at Cleveland Consolidated teaching history.
“When I came back I had about 60 students in one class and before I could call roll, the class would be over,” he said.
Robinson said in the same story that was the reality of education for blacks at that time.
Robinson also taught at East Side High School and became principal of East Wood Jr. High School (now D.M. Smith Elementary). He retired from there in 1982.
To Robinson education was a calling.
“It appeared to me that if I could help any person that I can see there is a need, I would. All my life I’ve tried to be of some help and if I couldn’t help I try very hard not to be a hindrance,” he said.
Through the years, Robinson spent as much time serving the community as he did his students.
Robinson served as a deacon in his church and was on the finance committee.
He was also involved with the Bolivar County Community Action, Cleveland Area Civic Club, Bolivar County Retired Teachers; Robinson-Carpenter Memorial Library; Delta Health Center in Mound Bayou; Omega Psi Phi Fraternity; Sunflower-Humphreys County Progress in Indianola; United Way of Cleveland-Bolivar County; NAACP; and East Side High School PTO.
He was once employed with an insurance company and a funeral home. He also served three years in an Army aviation squadron during World War II.
In addition to Tennessee State, Robinson studied at Mississippi Valley State University and received his administration certification from Delta State University.
Funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Saint Paul M.B. Church and visitation will be from 2-6 p.m. today at the church,