John Robinson Memorial Dedication

After two years of phone calls, letter writing, planning and arm twisting, the effort that had started with a few LOHS alumni had grown to include graduates from the LOHS Classes of 1947 to 1967-"The Robinson Years"-and many other friends, faculty and community leaders. What started as plan to fund a bronze bust of former principal John Robinson had grown to include a bust, rededication of the LOHS Gymnasium, renaming a section of College Ave, and the beginning of a scholarship fund to honor his memory.

In 2002, it all came to fruition with a dedication ceremony in the High School Cafeteria on Sunday April 7, 2002, as is documented in the article by Paducah Sun Staff Reporter Shelley Street, transcribed below. This page seeks to document that event and archive some of the resulting memoriabilia.

Lone Oak honors former principal

The Late John E Robinson now has a bronze bust at the high school, and part of a street is named for him.

By Shelly Street
Paducah Sun

    More than 100 people laughed, cried, shared stories and remembered the life of John E. Robinson on Sunday when the late Lone Oak High School principal was honored in a ceremony at the school.
    A bronze bust of Robinson will be placed in the gymnasium which has been renamed Robinson Arena. The section of College Avenue in front of the school was also renamed in his honor. And more than $17,000 in contributions from 203 people will be used to start a scholarship fund in his name.
    Robinsom was principal of Lone Oak High School from 1946 to 1967. He died August 27, 1976.
    "This is a long overdue tribute to a principal and a coach who touched a lot of lives in 21 years," said Rick Leeper, who coordinated the various memorials.
    Leeper graduated from Lone Oak in 1966. The idea to honor Robinson came at a 30th class reunion, and a team of Lone Oak alumni has been working on the project seriously since last July.
    "His students respected him, sometimes feared him, but always loved him," Leeper said.
The people who spoke about Robinson at Sunday's ceremony talked of his love for his students, his school and his community.
    While Robinson was principal, he created the school band, driver's education and an annual careet day and took two debate teams to state competition. He also led the effort to build the current gymnasium.
    The school had the second highest rate of college attendance in the state, partly because he would often take students in his own car to meet with college officials and persuade them to admit students.
    Robinson was also instrumental in founding the Lone Oak Lions Club and the Lone Oak Fire Department and names several Lone Oak Streets.
    "He would never give up on anyone... and he would bring the good out of anyone," former school administrator Glenn Earl Dexter said.
    He recalled that Robinson would buy shoes or give money to needy students.
    "I can't ever remember anyone ever talking to him about a child who needed help where they didn't get it," former librian Gwen Helfer said.
    Robinson was known as a strict disciplinarian who sent both teachers and students scurrying at times. He slammed doors and would yell between classes, "Get out of the halls! You can't learn from there!" former choir director Dick Throgmorton said.
    He demanded respect for himself, his teachers and everyone else who worked at the school.
    Robinson's son, Randal Robinson, 65, of Leslie, Mich., said his father would have appreciated the tribute.
    "He would have been very pleased," he said. "He was very dedicated. He was very committed to education, to the school and to the students as individuals."
    The best glimpse into what made Robinson so special to so many come in the words of the speech he gave upon his retirement.
    "I have always thought the students came first. The children are what always mattered, really. The rest of us are just hired hands."

The following links provide access to the Memorial Dedication Program, the Paducah Sun Newspaper Article and the Memories Booklet compiled from submitted notes from numerous alumni from the Robinson Years. Each item is reproduced in a PDF format.

The following images were taken at the dedication ceremony. Click an image for more detail.