Raymond Robinson, the legendary Northeastern professor who taught history for 57 years while making a bit of it himself, died peacefully in his sleep on Sunday. He was 92. He was surrounded by the comforting keepsakes of a life well lived.
His suburban Boston home since 1962 was brimming with thousands of books on all subjects, in addition to scores of memorabilia centered around George Washington, which he had arranged to be donated to the Washington museum in Mt. Vernon, Virginia. Robinson’s fascination with the first president began at age 8, when he came upon his father reading a magazine with Washington on the cover. After a bit of hounding, his father tore off the cover and handed it over, and so the collection began.
Robinson’s grandfather was born during the Civil War in 1863, two years before the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. American history seemed to propel him.
Robinson came to Northeastern in 1952 to teach history and government. After a departure of three years to Northwestern, he returned in 1961 as chair of Northeastern’s history department. Robinson’s presence would be hard to miss over the next 51 years, until his retirement in 2012 at age 84. He served as the university’s chief marshal, launching convocations, graduation ceremonies, and other public events with affluent sincerity.