Alabama journalist dies at 58


Most people who talked to Timothy Sumner Robinson for more than a few minutes knew he was from Alabama.

“It was a real part of him,” said Janet Andrew, Robinson’s widow. “He just loved being from Alabama and loved being a Southern boy.”

Robinson died Tuesday of complications following colon cancer surgery at the age of 58. The journalist and Internet pioneer will be buried at West Jefferson Freewill Cemetery, following his funeral.

A Dora native, Robinson began his career in journalism near home as a reporter for the Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper and later as an assistant state editor for the Birmingham Post-Herald. While in Alabama, he also worked for United Press International.

During the 1970s, Robinson covered the Watergate trials as a reporter for The Washington Post.

In 1980, he became editor of the National Law Journal and in 1989 took over the top spot of the Los Angeles Daily Journal. Most recently he worked with Excite, Altavista, and AOL Time Warner.

“He was a real genius,” said Robinson’s older brother, Michael Robinson of Cumming, Ga. “You could see when he was little that he had a very special talent.”

Howell Raines, the former executive editor of The New York Times, walked into the Post-Herald newsroom as a reporter in 1964. At the time, a young Robinson was balancing his duties as an assistant editor with his studies at Howard College, now Samford University, Raines recalled.

“I’d never seen anyone my age, or slightly younger than I was, that was so far advanced in journalism,” Raines said Thursday.

Robinson was an assistant editor before he could vote, Raines said.

“I think he was a very impressive person,” he said.

Raines is working on a follow-up to his 1994 book, “Fly Fishing through the Midlife Crisis.” Having lost touch after leaving the Post-Herald, Robinson and Raines reconnected about 10 years ago when Raines became editorial page editor of The Times, Raines said.

“Tim came from a good place,” said Raines, who is also an Alabama native.
From penning screenplays to cooking Cajun cuisine, Robinson’s hands and mind were constantly working, Andrew said.

An avid piano player, Robinson loved rock ‘n’ roll, his wife of 16 years said.

Almost filling in for the keyboard player of the Rolling Stones during a 1970s concert became a story often told at cocktail parties, she said.

Andrew, who met her husband during a friend’s poker game, recently moved to Reston, Va., with Robinson.

After attending Dora High School, Robinson later attended Walker College and earned degrees from Samford University, American University and Yale University.