They would often discuss at family gatherings who was the better all-around athlete, the uncle, Donald Curtis Robinson, or the nephew, Reggie Wilkerson.
Donald was a three-sport standout and All-Star running back for the Red Devils in the 1960s. Reggie was an All-Scholastic quarterback and talented hoopster in the late 1980s.
Donald’s teams twice beat archrival Everett High on Thanksgiving. Reggie led Chelsea to within one victory of a berth in the Super Bowl.
The issue was never resolved but it made for good, healthy laughter among family members young and old. This week Reggie spoke about his beloved uncle Donald and the wonderful example he set for the entire family at the memorial observance.
Mr. Robinson died on Feb. 6 at the age of 68. He was a member of the Chelsea High School Class of 1967.
Donald was not only a star athlete who achieved on the field but a fine student who went on to earn his degree from Northeastern University and enjoy a successful career working for Digital and US West.
Teammates have great memories of the young, humble Donald Robinson who had a magnetic personality and let his actions speak for themselves on the playing field. His talents at the Carter School were known throughout the city even before he first put on the CHS football uniform in 1964.
Dr. Howard Glazer, the quarterback of the 1966 Red Devil team that defeated Everett, 23-8, in the final game of their CHS football careers, remembered his teammate “as a truly wonderful human being.”
“I am terribly saddened by the passing of Donald Robinson, my classmate and sensational football teammate,” said Glazer. “Robbie,” as I affectionately called him, was a great two-way football player.”
Glazer said Robinson was a gifted defensive back and a speedy halfback who could both run and catch with the best.
“Donald was one of the best two-way football players that I had the privilege of playing with at CHS,” said Glazer. “Donald was a true star on the field, but more importantly, he was a great teammate and a truly wonderful human being.”
Glazer remembers Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 23, 1966, when Chelsea stunned heavily favored Everett.
“That was the highlight of both our careers,” said Glazer. “In the first we ran a play that we had perfected during the season. It was a screen pass to Donald in the right flank. With great blocking in front of him, Donald ran 70 yards for a touchdown, with the 12,000 fans at Chelsea Memorial Stadium all on their feet going crazy!
“To this day, I can visualize Donald running with his great speed and cutting ability to avoid defender the entire run after the catch,” added Glazer.
The Robinson brothers, Latimer Society Co-Director Ronald Robinson, and Councillor-at-Large Leo Robinson, competed on CHS teams with Donald and on Williams School teams against Donald, who attended Carter School. Donald’s younger brother, Jimmy, would later star on the basketball court at Carter School.
“Before we got to Chelsea High, I remember Donald being a phenomenal athlete,” said Ronald. “It was so heartwarming to here Reggie talk about his uncle at the funeral service and his athletic prowess. Reggie said he used to tell his uncle he was better, but the reality was Reggie was a great athlete, but Donald was special.”
Donald was not a large man by football playing standards, but he had speed to burn and seemed to understand football, according to Ronald.
Donald went on to play at Northeastern University but what Ronald the most about the former Red Devil great was how he used athletics to gain an education and make a path toward a successful life.
“Donald used sports as a way to receive a great college education and make a life for himself and I think he did that,” said Donald. “Donald married a local woman and they had a daughter, who was a beautiful person and pursued higher education with the passion that he did.”
Ronald said many of his teammates paid tribute to Donald Robinson this week.
“So many of our teammates, like Kenny Lava and Dale Johnson, and others said farewell to a great man who set a terrific example for his family,” said Ronald.
Leo Robinson was also profuse in his praise and admiration for Donald Robinson.
“He was just a wonderful person who touched so many people in a positive way,” said Leo. “He had a close-knit family who took great pride in his accomplishments and his success.”
The councillor-at-large said he will call for a moment of silent tribute for Donald Robinson at the next meeting of the Chelsea City Council.
“Chelsea has lost a true sports legend,” said Leo Robinson.