In Memory of Timothy Sumner Robinson

July 16, 1945 – October 7, 2003

AOL lost a team member this week, and the Internet lost a pioneer in the field of online searching.

Timothy S. Robinson, 58, was with AOL for only six months when he passed away suddenly from complications caused by surgery.

As AOL’s Director of Search & Navigation, Tim led the search editorial team.  Although at AOL only a short time, “Tim led AOL Search teams to the competitive lead we have in the industry today,” said Gerry Campbell, Tim’s Executive Director.  He was responsible for the “top line” search results that were designed to drive traffic to AOL and our partners.  He reveled in not simply delivering relevant search results but in delighting members with the high relevance of those results.

Much of Tim’s role at AOL also centered on integrating AOL Search with other AOL products.  As a result, Tim had to balance the needs of many stakeholders while ensuring senior management buy-in of these initiatives.  One such initiative was the integration of Music Search 2.0 into AOL Search.

Tim was a writer at heart though, starting his career at the Washington Post where he covered the Watergate trials, among other legal matters, and later as the editor of the National Law Journal  before he moved into the online search industry.  More recently, Tim had ghost-written books, including The Board (Behind Closed Doors with the Directors of DFP, Inc.) by James Ukropina.

Most recently, Tim took his talents to the Internet as a pioneer within the online search industry. His efforts at search engines AltaVista and Excite–and of course AOL–have had an impact on millions of people as they search for the information they need online.

More important than Tim’s professional accomplishments were his intangible qualities.  He was a great cook and a gracious host who enjoyed entertaining–even going so far as to introduce Washingtonians to true Alabama barbecue.

Those who worked with him described Tim as a true team player and role model.  “Tim was someone I felt I could really learn from.  He’d done so much in his career and had the ability to make things really happen,” said Myron Rosmarin, Sr. Product Manager on Tim’s team.  Cheryl Haas, another Sr. Editor on his team, remembered Tim as “very calm and even-tempered.

Whereas a lot of people would react to the stressful situations our team faces, Tim always kept his composure–a necessary trait in this role.”  Tim may not have been at AOL that long but the opportunities that he brought to his team were irreplaceable.  He had a wealth of information and insight to give and was happy to share it with those around him.

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