Fond memories of former Lone Oak head
The following article from the Wednesday September 26, 2001 edition of the Paducah Sun, written by Leigh Wright, is from interviews with various alumni of the "Robinson" years. The following is a transcription of that article. The original publication may be viewed HERE.
By Leigh Landini Wright
Sun Features Editor
David Wilson is only half joking when he credits former Lone Oak High School
Principal John Robinson for saving his academic career.
"If it hadn't have been for Mr. Robinson, I wouldn't have graduated," said Wilson, who graduated in 1966.
Wilson is in a small group of Lone Oak graduates raising money to finance the creation of a bust of Robinson, principal from 1946-1967, and a scholarship in his name. The idea formulated during a gathering of 1966 graduates and expanded to include classes from throughout his tenure.
"You respected everything about him," said Buddy Rushing, a 1959 graduate who later became assistant principal at Lone Oak. "He was fair and firm."
Rushing admired Robinson and hoped to emulate the late principal's style after he became an administrator. "I wasn't as firm." Rushing said.
Robinson, a Milburn native, wasn't interested in attending college after high school. His mind was changed during a visit by Carlisle Cutechin, who later became baseball and basketball coach at Murray State College. Robinson played baseball for Murray State, and after graduation, he taught at Milburn and later coached basketball. He entered school administration as a principal in Cunningham, and subsequently was hired at Lone Oak.
He is credited with gaining Lone Oak's accreditation from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, having the second highest college attendance percentage in Kentucky at the time, achieving a low drop-out rate and never expelling a student.
"When he called an assembly and told us to be quiet, he could call you down and call you out by name (for misbehaving)," Wilson recalled. "He backed us in sports, school and choir."
Wilson remembers when Robinson helped a former student who was struggling financially at college. After she called him and explained the situation, Robinson paid her tuition.
Robinson, who left the county school system in 1967, was named to the Kentucky Board of Education in 1972. He died at age 70 in 1976.
The bust committee is sending letters to graduates, with hopes of raising $100,000 to pay for the bust and establish a scholarship fund. The organizers also plan to collect stories about Robinson for a book, and they want to rename College Avenue, which runs in front of the school, to John E. Robinson Avenue.
The estimated cost of the bust is $7,500 to $8,000. The remainder of the $100,000 will be used to establish the scholarship fund.
The tentative date to unveil the bust is April 7. There has been no determination on the bust's permanent home.