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The late Fred Robinette is remembered as the ambassador of Appalachian State University and a great friend to Boone. Photo/submitted

Originally published: 2014-01-27 16:53:24
Last modified: 2014-01-27 16:55:39

Fred Robinette dies at 69, remembered as friend to ASU, church, community

by Sherrie Norris

The life of Fred Turner Robinette Jr. is being remembered in Boone this week by many who were fortunate to have known him and his wife, Priscilla, during their years of residency and dedicated service to the community.

Robinette died peacefully on Saturday, Jan. 25, in Bermuda Run following a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer at the age of 69.

The Robinettes had relocated from Boone to the Winston Salem area in 2006 following their retirement from the education system.

Not only did Robinette, a Statesville native, earn multiple academic degrees from Appalachian State University, he also spent the majority of his distinguished career as a member of the school's faculty.

Spending his first four years in education as a teacher and administrator at elementary schools in Winston-Salem and Morganton, he returned to ASU to become the director of alumni affairs.

ASU, as well as the community in general, benefitted greatly through the years from Robinette's foresight, ingenuity and dedication to a place and its people that he dearly loved.

His many accomplishments include helping found the Yosef Club, the Ambassadors Program, the Annual Fund, the Alumni Travel Program and the local alumni chapters.  He led many successful fundraising campaigns for the university and retired as the Associate Vice Chancellor for University Advancement.

Robinette continued to serve as a fundraising and public relations consultant to several charities and nonprofit organizations. He eventually became the senior director of Alumni Development at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, where in September 2013, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Medical Alumni Association.

The Robinettes were active members of Boone United Methodist Church for many years, a fellowship in which Fred held many leadership roles.

ASU Chancellor Kenneth Peacock knew Robinette not only as a faculty member, but also as a close friend and fellow church member. He referred to him on Monday as "a true gentleman" and one who had three primary loves. "First, he loved God and his church; second, he loved his family, and third, he loved Appalachian," said Peacock. "Fred shared his loves with me a couple of weeks ago when we visited. Even after Fred and Prissy relocated, he remained connected to the people at BUMC and to the people at Appalachian."

 At church, Robinette was the greeter, said Peacock: "Sometimes official and sometimes unofficial -- and he had the ability to make everyone feel wanted and welcome."

Peacock said that church visitors sometimes could not recall Robinette's name, but they recalled an energetic gentleman with a big smile who created a desire for them to return and be part of the warm, caring church fellowship. ‎"No doubt about it, that was Fred Robinette, and let there be no doubt about it  -- he will be missed."

Robinette is also remembered by Peacock, and by Gerald Adams, director of the Yosef Club at ASU, as a proud member of the Appalachian State University family and as a loyal supporter of the ASU Mountaineers football program. 

Not only were Robinette and Adams friends and colleagues, but they were also neighbors.

"Fred helped me find my house when I first came here," said Adams. "It was the house that (coach) Bobby Cremins had when he was here, just a couple of doors down from Fred's. Fred was a great guy, a hard worker and very much dedicated to App, from the time he first got here as an undergraduate student."

Adams remembers well when, he said, Robinette was instrumental in founding the Yosef Club in 1972, and worked hard with his colleagues promoting the club by offering $25 memberships.

"I was the superintendent of schools in Virginia," Adams said, "when he and Coach (Jim) Brakefield came up promoting the new club. I was a 1954 alum and had gotten my master's here in '61 and was happy to join. I've still got the canceled check I wrote them that day."

Adams called Robinette a great ambassador for ASU: "Robinette and Appalachian go hand in hand; he was a great guy and he's done a lot. He was always looking for ways to help the university.  Fred brought life to a room when he came through the door."

Robinette was also an avid golfer, a veteran of the U.S. Army Reserve, and a devoted family man.

He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Priscilla Swaim Robinette; two daughters, Emily Robinette Harpe and husband Slayton of Advance and Sally Robinette Anglin and husband Andrew of Winston-Salem; and three grandchildren: Kathryn and Meredith Harpe and Benjamin Anglin.  Also surviving are his sister, Dottie Robinette Smith, and niece Mollie Smith of Statesville, and a brother-in-law, Joseph Swaim of Advance. 

A memorial service for Robinette will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 2 p.m. at Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem, where he and his wife were members.  

Memorials may be made to the Fred T. and Priscilla S. Robinette Scholarship for Student Ambassadors, Appalachian State University, ASU Box 32014, Boone, NC 28608; the Fred T. Robinette Award Fund, Wake Forest Baptist School of Medicine, PO Box 571021, Winston-Salem, NC 27157; Centenary United Methodist Church, PO Box 658, Winston-Salem, NC 27102, or Hospice and Palliative Care of Davie County, 377 Hospice Street, Suite 103, Mocksville, NC 27028.  

Hayworth-Miller Kinderton Chapel was in charge of services.