Love of history, education creates Libraries legacy
Dr. James Russell (Rus) Robinson
The late Dr. James Russell (Rus) Robinson (PhD’53) felt the library was a place where the human mind could be held for others to discover.
A donor to Western since 1979, Robinson supported various initiatives over the years, but his most notable contribution was to The D.B. Weldon Library, where he donated books and provided money for the purchase of books on the history of radar, military applications and air force history.
“He was very much an intellectual,” says Halina Czajkowska-Robinson, Rus’ wife of 57 years. “He believed in education being the future for everybody and felt your life would be fuller with the more wisdom and information you acquired.”
Robinson grew up in Norwich, Ontario, and after attending Ontario Agriculture College in Guelph he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941 where he trained as a radio technician.
During the Second World War he travelled to England, France and Belgium where he worked in radar stations. He was on the ground with the radar equipment tracking enemy aircraft activity and helping direct Allied planes. Robinson attained the rank of Flight Lieutenant before he was severely injured in Belgium in November 1944. When he was well enough, he returned to Canada.
Robinson chose to go back to school and in 1953 he became Western’s first PhD graduate in Chemistry. Western was where he met Halina, who had been working on campus in Dr. James Collip’s laboratory. After graduating, Robinson worked at Agriculture Canada from 1953 to 1985, which had a site on campus. He also taught at Western during that time.
Halina says Rus felt very close to Western, where the library was his love and history was his passion.
Subject Librarian at The D.B. Weldon Library, Elizabeth Mantz, manages the collection of books from Robinson’s donation. She says currently there are 349 titles in the collection, which are located throughout the library, and more will be coming thanks to Robinson’s last donation in December 2009.
Mantz was in regular contact with Robinson and says she was privileged to work with him and very sad to hear of his passing April 10.
“He was such a gentleman, very gracious, thoughtful, and ready to show his appreciation,” says Mantz. “When someone gives to the libraries they don’t necessarily ever see the end result, but it’s there for someone else to discover and benefit from. Rus gave with a good heart and no strings attached.”