James “Mac” Robinson

James “Mac” Robinson
Scientist, hobbyist, outdoor enthusiast, pilot, family man

Longtime Claremont resident James McOmber “Mac” Robinson died on May 17, 2012 at his Claremont Manor home, surrounded by his family.

Born in Harbor Springs, Michigan on August 22, 1920, Mr. Robinson was the son of Leroy T. Robinson, a Methodist minister, and Hazel McOmber Robinson. He grew up in Michigan and graduated from high school in Grand Rapids after which he earned a bachelor’s degree at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana and a PhD in organic chemistry at Indiana University. Post-doctoral work at Indiana and Ohio State universities followed.

During World War II, Mr. Robinson was placed on the “Reserved List” based on his status as a scientific professional engaged in essential research.

Mr. Robinson began his career as a research chemist with Merck & Co. in New Jersey. In 1955, he and his family moved to Claremont where he began work as a rocket scientist in the budding aerospace industry, working first for Aerojet in Azusa and then Autonetics in Anaheim.  

In the early 1970s he transitioned to work as a chemist in the healthcare field and ended his career as a clinical chemist supervisor at the Los Angeles County/ USC Medical Center, from which he retired in 1986.

In December 1944, Mr. Robinson married his childhood sweetheart, Barbara Blair, whom he had met at Crystal Lake in Michigan when he was 7 and she was 5. They were married for 56 years, until Mrs. Robinson’s death in 2001, and enjoyed a full life together, which included raising a family of 2 sons and 2 daughters and participating in the lives of 8 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.


Mr. and Mrs. Robinson shared a great love for the outdoors, camping and backpacking in the High Sierra. They traveled extensively through the West and, later in life, enjoyed international adventures with dear friends and traveling partners Meg Mathies and Ed Copeland.

In addition to camping, mountaineering and traveling, Mr. Robinson had many other interests and hobbies. While living in New Jersey, he took up handgun target shooting and won prizes at both state and national levels. He continued this hobby at Aerojet and won the overall prize in their gun club for the handgun, .22 rifle and 30.06 rifle competitions.

Mr. Robinson rode motorcycles to work and for pleasure, with family estimating a total of 250,000 miles logged over the years. His longest ride was a roundtrip venture from California to Michigan, but he and his wife enjoyed many shorter, scenic rides in California, hitting the road to Hearst Castle, Sequoia National Park and other points of interest.

He was a dedicated photographer, faithfully documenting all family trips and events and doing his best to capture the beauty of the natural world that he loved so much. He always had a high-end camera with zoom and telephoto lenses and, at one point, he had a darkroom in one of the household bathrooms. In this manner, he leaves behind a large pictorial history of his family.

A longtime tennis player, Mr. Robinson enjoyed the sport well into his 80s. He was a classical music lover, played the clarinet throughout his high school and college years and made a valiant attempt to learn to play the piano in his late 70s. He was an avid reader with a prodigious memory for detail and a gift for storytelling. The Ring Trilogy by JRR Tolkien was a favorite, and he once retold the entire story from memory to his children over the course of a family backpacking trip, drawing detailed maps of Middle Earth in the dirt.

Shortly before retiring, Mr. Robinson realized a lifelong dream and earned his private pilot’s license. Eventually, he became partners in owning a Cessna 182 RG, which was hangared at Brackett Field Airport in LaVerne. He logged many enjoyable hours of flight time, including trips to the Oshkosh Air Show with his flying partner and a solo flight home from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

For many years, Mr. Robinson was deeply involved in church work, from participating in the Epworth League to serving as a lay leader in the Methodist Church and, locally, in the Claremont United Church of Christ (CUCC). At CUCC, he was a member and chairman of the Board of Christian Education and member and chairman of the Board of Deacons. As parents, he and his wife were involved in many church youth group activities.

After retiring, Mr. Robinson volunteered with Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic and the Board of the Friends of the Library.

For the last 10 years, Mr. Robinson was blessed to share his life with Lyn Krinsky. Each widowed after long and happy marriages, they met in a bereavement group that Mrs. Krinsky had facilitated for many years. Family shared that they both found enormous compatibility and joy in their relationship. Together, they participated in their collective grandchildren’s graduations and weddings, and they took several wonderful trips together. They shared their love for music and the arts. In 2009, Mr. Robinson and Mrs. Krinsky moved to Claremont Manor.

Mr. Robinson is survived by his wife, Lyn Krinsky; his sons and daughters-in-law, James M. Robinson, Jr. and Victoria Robinson and Thomas B. Robinson and Julie Merrill; his daughters and sons-in-law, Katherine R. Short  and Gene Short and Carol Jane Robinson and Bill Bromenschenkel; his grandchildren, Dominie, Ian, Jesse, Rosanna and Patrick Robinson, Gene Short III, Amy Short Lennstrom and Nathaniel Short; and his great-grandchildren, Sierra and Christopher Robinson and Levi Lowery.

A celebration of life will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow, Sunday, May 27, 2012 in Manor Hall at Claremont Manor, 650 W. Harrison Ave.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, PO Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090-6011, www.alz.org.


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