As a mathematician, Dr. Richard Long Robinson ’61 was good with numbers. He also had a way with words.
“He was a great public speaker,” says Dr. Dan Maultsby ‘61, dean emeritus. “He had a dry sense of humor and he was absolutely hilarious. We always asked him to speak when we had someone coming in that we wanted to impress.”
Robinson, Larry Hearn McCalla Professor of Mathematics Emeritus, died Aug. 8 in Spartanburg. He was 84.
Robinson delivered one of his most memorable addresses to the Wofford College Board of Trustees on Oct. 3, 1988. Then-president Joe Lesesne told him “to give a speech that was brief and light but with a pungent point,” Robinson said in opening his presentation. He titled the speech “Contemplations on Spring Onions.” Read the speech here.
Robinson, a native of Spartanburg, was a U.S. Army veteran. After being discharged, he returned to Wofford and taught for almost 40 years. He retired in 2004. During his tenure at Wofford, he served as chair of mathematics and as the director of the Gifted and Talented Summer Program for fifth- through ninth-grade students.
“He was one of the brightest people I ever knew,” says Maultsby. “He was a brilliant student of mathematics. He could sit and solve problems with the very best anywhere.”
Maultsby says Robinson was a demanding teacher, but “the students who stayed in his class found out that he wasn’t a bear.”
Robinson was an active member of Central United Methodist Church, where he distributed bulletins and collected the offering each Sunday. He was a member of the Upper Room Sunday School Class.
“He spent a lot of time as a student of the Bible after he retired,” Maultsby says. “He studied the text and what other people said about the text and used that to put together meaningful lessons.”