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David Dunlop Robinson

1920 - 2001


Bill Treichler

We lost a great historian and friend when David Robinson died in November 2001.

David Robinson, the elder of two sons, was born on November 21, 1920, to Alice Challice and Ray McLeod Robinson of Rochester, New York. He earned a BA in 1943 from the University of Rochester where he majored in history, legendary pranks, and further developed his strong spirit of independence. It was there that he met Bina Aitchison from Pittsfield, Massachusetts. They were married in Rochester on her graduation day, May 14, 1944.

Following graduation, Dave completed basic and officer training in the Marine Corps Reserve but wound up serving in the Army Transport Service and the Merchant Marine instead. After the war, he was employed by Eastman Kodak Company. First he did production work in a dark room but later he was responsible for new plant site selection. During these years Dave and Bina scouted for a suitable site to develop for a ski area, found it at Swain, purchased hill land, and set out to clear trails and set up a base lodge.

After retirement in 1977, they took up mountain walking, mostly in the English Lake District, with occasional trips to Nepal in the Himalayas, Peru in the Andes, the Italian Dolomites, and the Austrian Alps. Dave was able to follow his early interests in archeology by visiting many ancient sites in England and charting their alignments, by documenting the stone piles left by the Adena Amerindian civilization, and in interesting professional archeologists to start exploration of a prehistoric site at Bluff Point. He came to know many of the people who studied and wrote about these early constructions and he wrote articles for the New England Antiquities Research Association and for The Crooked Lake Review. He also wrote many personal letters and e-mail messages including reports he had picked up, observations he had made, and hilarious tales of encounters with people, animals, and strange places. Dave invariably saw the funny side.

Every summer Dave and Bina invited the New Society of the Genesee to their cottage on Canandaigua Lake for a potluck lunch on the long screened porch of Whippoorwill overlooking the lake.

On May 27, 2001, Dave suffered a stroke and a fall at home in Swain. The following weeks, he seemed to be recovering and could sit up, feed himself, look at magazines and appear to recognize people even if he couldn't speak. But his condition worsened and after four months in a nursing home he was brought home. On arrival he smiled and showed contentment but then died November 14, 2001. A memorial service was held in Canaseraga on November 24, 2001.

He is survived by his wife Bina, daughter Challice, (Jim) and grand-daughter Ariel; daughter Jeanie, (Jim) and grandchildren Jenny and Jamie; son Andrew, (Sonja) and grandsons Colin and David; daughter Janet, (Michael) and grandchildren Matthew and Bethany.

Dave Robinson contributed many articles to the Crooked Lake Review. His Mysterious Ruin at Bluff Point appeared in the November 1993 issue; Saint George, The Serpent, and the Seneca Indians in the February 1994 issue; The Outlaw Fort 'Canisteo Castle' in the November 1995 issue; Canisteo Castle Builders Found? in the February 1996 issue; More on the Bluff Point Ruin in the May 1996 issue; Who Built the 'Old Fort' on Bare Hill? in the Spring 1997 issue; and Establishing a Ski Area at Swain in the Winter 2000 issue. Dave found the story on Tom Swinburne of U. of R. fame for the fall 1996 issue.

In 2007, Bina Robinson completed a book about their experiences starting the Swain Ski Area, With Our Own Four Hands: And a Lot of Help from Our Friends and New Neighbors Swain Ski Area Came to Be. The book is reviewed in the Winter 2007 issue of the Crooked Lake Review by Martha Treichler.

Index of articles by David Robinson
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