Former U plant genetics professor dies at 82

Branden Peterson

Between 5 a.m. and 8 p.m., University agriculture students knew where they could find professor Bob Robinson – in University growing fields.

For 38 years, the former University professor was recognized for leading work on grain fields before the crack of dawn.

Robert G. Robinson, 82, died Sept. 13 at his home in Falcon Heights.

More than 100 of his friends, family, and former co-workers gathered Monday afternoon at the St. Paul Student Center for a memorial to the 38-year University professor.

“He loved his work, he loved the University and there was nothing in life he wanted to do more,” said Marilyn Powell, Robinson’s niece.

Former students, friends and family shared almost-forgotten stories, inspiring smiles from the gatherers for over an hour.

The former professor earned his bachelor’s degree in vocational agriculture from Iowa State University in 1941. He returned to Minnesota in 1947 and received a master’s degree and his doctoral degree in 1948.

Soon after, Robinson became an assistant professor in the department of agronomy and plant genetics. He was named professor in 1973, and retired in 1986.

Robinson worked with a variety of grains in his many years at the University. Among them include rye, millet, sorghum, field pea, buckwheat, canary grass, adzuki beans, horse beans, tick beans and a multitude of oils.

He published an article in 1953 exploring sunflower seed production in Minnesota. The piece stimulated interest in making sunflower seeds a commercial crop in the state.

Walking from his home to campus everyday, Robinson didn’t let the three-mile stretch impact his teaching or research. In all, he worked with over 200 species, leading to more than 200 written works.

The Robert G. Robinson Research Range at the Northwest Research and Outreach Center in Crookston was dedicated in 1981 for Robinson’s generosity to the University.

The University of Minnesota Robinson Scholarship continues to benefit University students in the College of Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Sciences. Robinson also established a scholarship for students in the Department of audiology.

Robinson’s family prefers gifts to be sent to the University of Minnesota Robinson Scholarship, the Department of Audiology Scholarship, the 1666 Coffman Memorial or the Billy Graham Evangelical Association.

“This guy was so dedicated, so committed to this institution,” said Bill Hueg, of the University’s agronomy and plant genetics department. “With the scholarships students have now, he will live forever.”