“It’s hard to express his loss. He meant so much to people. I could not believe the amount of admiration and respect that was expressed after he died,” Carney said. “People changed their profile pictures on Facebook and they shared paragraphs about how much he meant to them.”
David Matthews, Pharm.D., director of advanced pharmacy practice experiences, has known Robertson since their time at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. “No person here has cast a greater shadow of influence on everyone—including students, faculty, and staff—than my fellow professional, my personal confidant, my mentor and adviser, my friend, a respected professional and ultimately just a very, very great man,” Matthews said.
“Words truly can't describe the pain I felt when I learned of Dr. Robertson's passing,” Samadi said. “He made an impact on my life unlike anyone else I had known for a mere year and a half. He was dear to not only me, but to my family as well. His sincerity was contagious and it easily affected those around him. When I graduate, I hope to be half the professional Dr. Robertson was.”
In one phrase to describe Robertson, Palakurthi said: “He does what he believes and he believes what he does.”
Robertson was born June 15, 1953, to James Cornelius Robertson Sr. and Nancy Caves Robertson in New Orleans, La.
The oldest of six children, he was the family leader and adored his mother. “He took care of his family and spoke highly of them,” Chavez said.
His start in life helped him relate to student needs. “I always admired him because he came from humble beginnings,” de León said. “He was a self-made person. He struggled to get where he was. What he did was a clear indication that education can help people improve the quality of life.”
His mother died in 1992 when Robertson was 39. He met Eugenia Ritter while at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. She rented a garage apartment to him and they became close friends. She was a Southern aristocrat and introduced Robertson to elegance and grace that he bestowed on others. He kept a picture of her on his desk. Colleagues said she was like his surrogate mother. They traveled together to Europe and around town in his PT Cruiser. Eventually, in her later years, he was her caretaker.
“You’d think an associate dean would have a different car, rather than a PT Cruiser, but he was proud of that car,” Chavez said, who was a close friend to Robertson. “He had the camera ready when it was about to change to 200,000 miles. He was driving through Chapman Ranch and when he looked down, the odometer was 200,001. He missed it!”
Robertson had sentimental reasons for keeping the PT Cruiser with hundreds of thousands of miles on it. “He would tell me that this was the car that he drove Jean around in and a new car would separate him from her,” Chavez said.
Early in his career, Robertson worked as an administrator. He was the assistant director of admissions at the University of New Orleans at age 27. After a few months, he became the International Student Office director and Veterans Administration certifying official in the Office of Registrar at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. After about six years at Monroe, he went to college in Illinois to complete his doctorate. He returned to the University of Louisiana at Monroe as the director of admissions, university registrar and adjunct associate professor in health education.
“He does what he believes and he believes what he does.”
He is preceded in death by his parents and his brother Jimmy Robertson of Ponchatoula, La. Robertson is survived by Dr. Tim Van Frank, M.D., of Corpus Christi, Texas; his siblings: brother and sister-in-law, Gary and Lynn Robertson Sr. of Natalbany, La.; sister-in-law, Marion Robertson of Appleton, Wis.; sister and brother-in-law, Diane and Mark Martinez of Ponchatoula, La.; sister, Margie Robertson of LaPlace, La.; sister and brother-in-law, Mildred and Tommy Windom of Natalbany, La.; and 12 nieces and nephews.