Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Small Town Friend

I went to the Tim Sumner Robinson Forum tonight at Samford University. Tim was a friend who graduated from the same high school from which Jilda and I graduated.
It was obvious, even in high school that he was blindingly brilliant. But he wasn't one of those folks who liked to flaunt his intelligence.
He learned to fit in, by playing music. He was in a high school band, and loved music throughout his life.  But his first love was journalism.
He graduated a few years early, and went to college. He started working for the same newspaper where my weekly column runs.
He went on to work for the Birmingham Post Herald during the mid sixties during the civil rights movement.
He later worked for The Washington Post as a night city editor. This was during the Watergate trials. During the hight of the trials, he often had front-page stories in the Post.
He later worked for AOL/Time Warner when the Internet and online news was in its infancy.
He appeared on theToday Show and Larry King Live.
His contributions weren't the stuff of tabloids, but the nuts and bolts hidden under the hood. Things that helped pave the way for modern journalists.
In 2003 he was diagnosed with cancer, and died suddenly of complications after surgery. His wife asked Jilda and me to sing at his funeral. We were flattered, but it was hard.
He was always kind to us. We visited him once in New York City when he was editor of the National Law Journal. He took us out to eat in Soho, and we talked into the night.
Gene Policinski who is senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center was the guest speaker tonight.
He spoke highly of Tim's work. He also urged the journalism students at Samford, to consider focusing on legal journalism.
The public needs to know what's going on in the courts, according to Policinski. Our freedom depends on it.
Tim didn't do too bad for a boy from Dora, Alabama. I felt proud to have called him my friend.


  1. What a lovely tribute to your friend, Tim - an amazing person who made a difference! Take care

  2. I enjoyed reading this. I was not aware of Time Robinson or of his contributions.

  3. Such an amazing man. I'm sure he will be missed in more ways than one.

  4. It sounds like your friend left a wonderful legacy behind. What an honor to have been his friend - and I'll bet he would say the same of you.


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