James “Robbie” Robinson, son of Donald and Lillian (Schuler) Robinson, was born on December 31, 1942, in Yankton, South Dakota and died peacefully surrounded by family at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital in Yankton on Sunday, June 20, 2021, at the age of 78.
A celebration of his life will be at 1:00 PM, on Thursday, July 1, 2021 at Laddie E. Cimpl Arena on the campus of Mount Marty University in Yankton. The family will receive friends from 5:00 to 8:00 PM, on Wednesday, June 30 at the Wintz & Ray Funeral Home in Yankton.
Robbie grew up and lived in Yankton throughout the tenure of his life. He graduated from Yankton High School in 1961, where his love for sports and car racing blossomed. Robbie was a member of the track and field, football and basketball teams for the Bucks. Upon graduating high school, he attended college at the University of Iowa and the University of South Dakota (where he jokingly got his doctorate in BS). After his collegiate days, he married Patty (Nooney) Robinson on July 6, 1963, at Sacred Heart Church in Yankton. During that time, he also owned and operated Jim’s Tap, a 3.2 beer bar in downtown Yankton. The daytime brought Robbie work for Ken Bitterman Ford, as a salesman in the 1970’s. Alongside his wife, Patty, in 1979, the couple purchased a Little King sandwich franchise. They ran the business until 1997. In 1980, Robbie and a partner purchased the dealership and became co-owners. In 1982, they remodeled and added Chrysler, Plymouth and Dodge. 1987 brought them the Jeep franchise. From 1990-97, he owned Gipper’s Lounge and from 1992-96 he also had The Library Restaurant across from the Ford Dealership. After years of success in the automobile industry, Robbie purchased the dealership from his partner and formed Robinson Motors. He served as a board member of Northland Ford and the South Dakota Auto Dealers Association. In 2004, Robbie was named the TIMES South Dakota Quality Auto Dealer of the Year. He owned and operated the dealership until 2013. After ending a 43-year stint in the car business, Robbie played his hand into advertising at KYNT, until 2017.
After battling heart issues, Robbie became the first citizen of South Dakota to receive a left ventricular assist device (LVAD), which is a battery-operated mechanical pump on September 11, 2018, in Omaha, NE at University of Nebraska Medical Center. The procedure helped extend his life, as he was able to see the birth of one grandchild and two great-grandchildren.
Robbie was very active in the community of Yankton throughout his life. He was a board member of the Sertoma Club when they built Sertoma Park and started Babe Ruth Baseball. Robbie was a member of Sertoma and Yankton Quarterback Clubs for over 50 years. For 41 years, he was a member of the YHS football “chain gang”. Robbie also helped coach Junior Leader Football, soccer and umpired youth baseball games. He was a longtime chairman of the Hillcrest Pro-Am, president of the Yankton Chamber of Commerce and founding member of the Mount Marty Booster Club. Robbie was also a proud member of the Board of Directors at Mount Marty for six years. In 1993-94, he was inducted as an honorary member of “Y Club”, at Yankton High School. For seven years, Robbie served as the regional director of Ford’s Punt, Pass and Kick program. On February 3, 2005, former South Dakota Governor Michael Rounds deemed the date ‘James “Robbie” Robinson Day’. In 2012, after many years of support, Robbie was inducted into the University of South Dakota Athletic Hall of Fame as a Special Contributor. On June 6, 2016, Sertoma named the northwest little league diamond ‘Jim Robinson Field’ and then on February 10, 2017, he was inducted into the Yankton Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sports – including golfing, hunting and fishing played a foremost role in Robbie’s life. He was a passionate YHS, MMU, USD, Iowa Hawkeyes, Minnesota Vikings, Twins, Timberwolves and Wild fan. Robbie attended 18 Super Bowls, numerous Final Fours, World Series, an Indy 500 and a PGA Championship. Although he would say attending his children and grandchildren’s events would topple any major event he ever attended. Later in life, Robbie enjoyed playing with his son Matt’s dog – Corona, visiting the ducks at the Westside Park and feeding the birds in his backyard.
Blessed to have shared his life are his survivors, which include his wife, Patty of 58-years; five children: Jamie (Larry) Ryken, Jill (Darin) Podoll, Tricia (Tim) Cody, Nikki (Joe) Vondracek and Matt (Ashley) Robinson; 18 grandchildren: Patrick Ryken, Lilly Ryken, Lance (Ann) Ryken, Mark (Melanie) Ryken, Lisa Ryken, Colby (Tara) Kuchta, Ali (Jarrell) Freitag, Parker Kuchta, Cooper Kuchta, Michaela Podoll, Brooklyn Podoll, Kai Cody, Nick Robinson, Eliana Vondracek, Drake Vondracek, Finn Robinson, Beckett Robinson, Layla Zurcher; nine great-grandchildren: Mellie Kuchta, Penny Kuchta, Caprianha Freitag, Rex Ryken, Rugby Ryken, Mac Ryken, Drew Ryken, Beck Ryken and Albie Ryken.
Robbie was preceded in death by his parents, Donald and Lillian; brothers: Bill, Don, and Dick; and special family friend, Tom “T Fitz” Fitzgerald.
The family would prefer memorials be directed to Mount Marty University at 1105 W. 8th St, Yankton High School Booster Club at PO Box 251, Yankton Baseball Association at PO Box 299, or Yankton Sertoma Club at PO Box 753, all in Yankton, SD 57078.
** The final song was My Way by Frank Sinatra but it had to be muted for copyright reason. Sorry for the inconvenience. **