Jack Keith Robinson, 87, beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, World War II veteran, coach, teacher and friend passed away in his sleep on June 9, 2011 in Saint George, Utah.
Jack was born February 26, 1924 to Paul G. Robinson and Ethel L. Paul in Rockford, Illinois. Jack attended Thornton Township High School, Harvey, Illinois, where he played football and wrestled, and graduated in 1942. After attending one year at the Kemper Military institute in Missouri, where he played football, he enlisted in the Army. He volunteered for the paratroopers and was a member of the 11th Airborne, becoming a drill instructor at Fort Benning, Georgia. He became a Pathfinder and asked to be reassigned to the front. He was sent to the Pacific, and as a Pathfinder/Paratrooper was one of the first 32 to land in the retaking of the Philippines. He also served in New Guinea, and was with the first troops into Tokyo after the bomb was dropped. While in the army, he boxed – was undefeated, and played in the Army Navy football game played in the Philippines which ended in a 0 – 0 tie. After the war, Jack enrolled at the University of Illinois in physical education. He was on the football and wrestling teams, and a member of Ray Elliot’s 1949 Illinois Rose Bowl team.
On a blind date on September 28, 1946, he met his future wife Elinor Jean Anderson of Champaign, Illinois. The following summer on June 28, 1947, they were married. Their vows were renewed on their 61st anniversary at the wedding of their granddaughter Wendy on June 28, 2008.
In the early fifties Jack “competed” briefly as an undefeated professional wrestler under the moniker of “Little Samson”. Jack graduated with a BS from the University of Illinois in 1950 and joined the faculty and coaching staff of Thornton Township High School. In 1952, he received his Master’s Degree, also from the University of Illinois. For ten years he served as freshman/ sophomore football coach and varsity assistant wrestling coach. His 1956 sophomore football team was undefeated at 9-0 and only allowed 2 points against the entire season. His wrestling teams won 4 state championships, with over 20 individual champions and 60 place winners.
In 1960 Jack became the Head Football and Wrestling coach at the newly opened Thornridge High School in Dolton, Illinois. Assembling a first time team, they won the first game in the school’s history, a victory over Bradley. His 1966 team was undefeated and voted the mythical state championship by several polls. In 1968, he took over as head Wrestling coach and assistant football coach for the University of Illinois. In 1973 Jack moved to Utah where he became the Defensive Coordinator under Phil Krueger for the Utah State University Aggies. In 1975 he returned to Thornridge High School as Athletic Director. After several years, Jack returned to coaching in 1981 as Head Football coach for SkyView High School in Smithfield Utah, leading the Bobcats to successive winning seasons and a conference championship. From 1983 through 1985, Jack returned to Utah State University as Assistant Head Football Coach under Chris Pella for Utah State University. In 1986, Jack returned to the high school football coaching ranks at Mountain Crest in Providence Utah. In 1986, Jack’s first year, he lead Mountain Crest to the final four in the state tournament, and in 1987 Mountain Crest won the Utah State 3A championship over SkyView before over 20,000 at USU’s Romney stadium. Jack was also selected as the Utah 3A Football Coach of the Year. Jack then retired, with one final head coaching assignment in the summer of 1988, he lead the Utah 3A All Stars to victory over the 4A All Stars for one of the few times the smaller schools upset the larger schools. Although retired, Jack continued to consult with the Logan, SkyView and Mountain Crest programs. In the mid-nineties, Jack came out of retirement to lead a team of Utah/Idaho all stars to a series of exhibitions in Australia and New Zealand.
In 1979, Jack was inducted into the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association (IWCOA) Hall of Fame, and was selected as the Grand Marshall for the Illinois High School Individual State Tournament in 1981.
This past April, Jack was again honored by the IWCOA with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Jack and his family returned to the Chicago area forthe IWCOA annual banquet to receive the award and were reunited with many of his former champions.
Jack is survived by his wife Jean, his children: Mike Robinson (Kathy Hooten), Mari Jill Benson (Dick), Susan Fletcher. His grand children: Wendy Chase (Lawrence), John Robinson (Jenny), Patrick Robinson (Brittany), Michelle Campbell (Steve), Ross Benson (Mandy), Sean Fletcher, Scott Fletcher, and Andrew Fletcher. His great-grand children: James Robinson, Grace Robinson, Jack Robinson, Bradley Campbell, Jessica Campbell (deceased January 2011), Noah Chase and Rawley Benson.
Funeral Services will be held on Monday June 13 at 1 p.m. at the Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church, 920 Tonaquint, Saint George, Utah.