When it comes to the College of Business and Economics at West Virginia University, it's not just business for Bob and Anne Robinson. It's personal.
It's personal for this Wheeling, W.Va., couple because their family is ingrained in WVU's business school-from Robert "Bob" Robinson, president of the Robinson Auto Group, who is a 1969 marketing graduate of B&E and a 2013 inductee into the B&E Roll of Distinguished Alumni-to their children, Roberta and Jim.
So it came as no surprise that the couple, renowned for helping others and their dedication to WVU, decided to provide a $100,000 endowment to establish two scholarships in their children's names.
Roberta Robinson Olejasz, a 1996 MBA graduate of B&E, is dealer-operator of Bob Robinson Chevy Buick GMC Cadillac and resides in Wheeling, W.Va. Jim Robinson, a 1992 MBA graduate of B&E, is dealer-operator of Jim Robinson Ford-Lincoln, Inc., and Jim Robinson Toyota, and resides in Wheeling. The family-owned and operated Robinson Auto Group includes three separate dealerships and nine automotive brands at its Triadelphia, W.Va., locations.
Bob Robinson is widely known throughout the Wheeling region and the Ohio Valley for the highly successful automotive group that bears his family name, as well as a wide range of community efforts. After purchasing his first dealership in 1974 in New Martinsville, he returned to Wheeling in 1988 and began the expansion of the Bob Robinson franchise.
Robinson has been honored throughout his professional career, including being inducted into Who's Who in West Virginia Business in 2008. In 2009, he received the YMCA Light of the Valley Award, which honors an individual whose life reflects their contributions and dedication to the quality of life for youth and families in the community. He was also named a Time Magazine quality dealer in 2000. He has served in several leadership capacities, including at Bethany College, the Wheeling YMCA, and the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley. Robinson has been a member of WVU's Wheels Club since the late 1970s, is a lifetime member of the WVU Alumni Association, and is also a member of the Mountaineer Athletic Club. On top of all that, he has two decades of service as a successful girls' basketball coach at Wheeling Central Catholic High School.
WVU is also the place where Robinson met his wife Anne. A native of Oakland, Md., Anne had strong family connections to WVU as well. Her father began his college years as a member of the WVU freshman football team. With the campus less than an hour from her hometown, she remembers going to WVU football and basketball games at an early age with her dad, a long-time season ticket holder in both sports. Together, the couple has a strong love and commitment to the university and B&E.
"Bob and Anne wanted to participate in WVU's capital campaign, and they very much wanted to give back to the College of Business and Economics," said Jose 'Zito' Sartarelli, B&E Milan Puskar Dean. "They were thrilled at the idea of providing scholarships because of their strong senses of giving."
Robinson said that attending WVU rather than another college began as something he did to please his father, Willis Robinson, a 1941 graduate of Sistersville High School.
"I thought 50 years ago, 'What's in this for me?' I came to West Virginia University not because I wanted to, but I was living my dad's dream. My parents, who lived in Pine Grove when their children were young, dropped me off on Wednesday. I kissed my mom, shook my dad's hand, and said, 'I'll see you at Thanksgiving.' On Friday, I hitchhiked back home."
Thinking back to the question he asked himself as a WVU freshman, Robinson said the answer is easy.
"What's in it for me? Everything. Everything seems to stem from that Wednesday drop-off by my parents. My wife and I met here and we made life-long friends here. I was the first in my family to graduate from college here, and now we're in the third generation of Mountaineer alumni in our family."
The Robinsons' hope is to provide that same type of legacy for future Mountaineers.
"The scholarships were designed to be given to a student from the schools where our children graduated," said Bob. "It is our family's way to give back and show our appreciation to the school and community who influenced their lives."
Accordingly, the scholarship given in Jim Robinson's name will give first priority to a graduate of Magnolia High School, then to a resident of Wetzel County, and finally the pool of possible awardees will include all of West Virginia.
The endowment was created through the WVU Foundation in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia's University. The campaign is a $750 million fundraising effort being conducted by the foundation on behalf of the university.
For further information on the WVU College of Business and Economics, visit be.wvu.edu.
As an interesting side note, Schau - Robinson - Herbold VFW Post 6327 in Sistersville is named in part after Bob Robinson's uncle, Bob Robinson, who was a 1940 graduate of Sistersville High School.
"My Uncle Bob was killed in Pearl Harbor on the USS Arizona on Dec. 7, 1941," said Robinson. "He was probably the first West Virginia casualty of WW II."
Obviously that had a great impact on Willis Robinson, father of the younger Bob Robinson.
Willis joined the Army Air Corp shortly after his brother was killed. He was a major and flew over 30 combat missions. Willis was stationed in Italy and flew into Germany.
During his time at SHS, Willis was president of his senior class. Also, his son believes Willis even graduated first in his class.
However, those were accomplishments he only found out after his death by reading SHS yearbooks.