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Born October 26, 1897 on a farm in Southside Beaver County was a baby boy who was destined to become the public educator whom we honor here tonight. His life span to this moment has permitted him to view the most shattering social developments in the entire history of man. Strangely and perhaps prophetically for all of us, these shattering social developments were wrought by a series of major mechanical and scientific developments that were introduced highly perfected in his life span.
The automobile and the airplane and the great highways and airports that they brought into being gave to the people a mobility that few have been able to understand. The mechanical marvels that these two modes of transportation brought about were equally applied to the farmland, from which he came, in two ways: one to make possible a superabundance of produce and second to spread it to all the corners of the land.
While science was exploding in the transportation and mechanical field, it was also exploding in an equally fantastic manner in the fields of medical science and agronomy. Diseases have been conquered by the hundreds, new births have been saved by the hundreds of thousands and the longevity of man has been extended to the point where the senior citizens are becoming the largest group of Americans. Concurrently, plant and animal diseases have been abundantly available the year around.
Occupying an increasingly larger portion of the future's horizon has been the development of nuclear fission and almost simultaneously the push to expand man's mobility tot he point where he is no longer bound to this planet that we call earth.
It is against this background that the baby boy born on October 26,1897 grew to maturity, entered the teaching profession and has served for these past fiftytwo years. Mr. Robertson's teaching career began on the Southside of Beaver County in Hanover Township where he taught from 1916 to 1919. From 1919 to 1952 he taught, supervised and administered schools in what is now the Freedom Area and finally from 1952 to 1968 he served us all as Assistant County Superintendent of Beaver County. With the changing of times it seems as if such a record will never again be duplicated by the new teachers entering the profession of this generation.
Mr. Robertson served through all this period with a rare diligence that I believe will never be equalled. To miss school or to be late was as common as an earthquake to our area. The hours to be worked were dictated only by the jobs to be done and the next day's work to be laid out.
I entered the Freedom Schools in 1916, three years later Mr. Robertson came to those schools for the next nine years; my public school career was influenced by this man's work. Six years after my high school graduation, I returned to the Freedom Schools as a teacher and was with him from 1934 to 1952. Together we did our best to serve the children who were entrusted to our care and education. True, the students thought sometimes we were co-conspirators trying not necessarily to educate them but rather trying to circumscribe their liberties. Times truly have changed in some respects but little, as the teacher militant cocks a wary eye at us today and views us - perhaps as co-conspirators trying to circumscribe their position so they cannot achieve immediately the plutocracy of abundant wealth.
In 1952 Mr. Robertson left me in Freedom as he joined the county superintendency staff. Strange as it seems, I joined him there in 1961 and for the next five years we once again worked side by side.
Through the many, many years of association with Mr. Robertson from the days of the old Schoolmen's Club to this very day, I have traveled all over this state; many times in his company and it is true, Mrs. Robertson, that we never chased the girls but we certainly looked at all of them.
In this association with Mr. Robertson as a student, as a teacher and as an administrator, I know many stories about him; some true and some apocryphal. These stories must be for another time for I wish to tell only what I have truly seen .....
A teacher and a gentleman he has been and this I mean in the fullest sense of the words. He has been always in my presence as a teacher hardworking, sincere, considerate and effective. He has left an impression for the better on thousands of boys and girls. As an administrator he has listened, weighed and considered all sides of any problems and has offered his advice or decision without malice and with sincerity and sometimes with sympathy. As a gentleman, anyone can go anywhere with this man. He never fails, it seems, to do the right thing and what he does, he does without fanfare or trumpets. His manners, as well as his dress, have been well nigh impeccable and I can assure you when he was younger and his hair blacker and curlier he was a rather handsome young blade. If you like and appreciate a good man to travel with, Mr. Robertson was indeed that man.
Because of himself, this man has left an indelible impression for good on many people and one of these happens to be me. Not that I pretend to be like Mr. Robertson, this cannot be, but certainly part of him is part of me and this I will carry with me always, and I hope, have and will pass on to all that I in turn have or will influence.
Let us now go back to where this address started. No one has enjoyed or cared for a car more than Mr. Robertson. If you don't believe, just look at his car; I am familiar with many he has owned. He and his good wife have toured the countryside of many states to enjoy the beauty of nature in the spring and summer, but especially in the fall. This they have truly loved.
No one has appreciated the radio and the television, which can bring the news and the entertainment of the far corners of this land and the world to your living room, more than Mr. Robertson.
No one has approved more the advances of science that have saved lives, conquered diseases, alleviated pain and suffering for man and at the same time advanced agricultural and industrial productivity than Mr. Robertson.
No one looks at the horizon of the future with more wonder than he, but he looks at it not only with a shake of his head but also with a gleam of anticipation.
The important thing to me seems to be that as these events unfolded before him, even as simultaneously his life unfolded, he adopted from each of them the good that each provided and passed aside any of the bad that might also have been present and he has marched forward with a sure and measured tread to serve faithfully his God, his fellow man and the students to whom his life has been dedicated. May each of us march forward from this point into the future with his sure and measured tread.
J. Richard Fruth
(at a retirement dinner at which Mr. Robertson was honored)