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David William Robinson, 63, engineer, Grove Park activist


David William Robinson had a word he used when he had something important to say and someone else was talking.


As a government engineer and scientist, Mr. Robinson, 63, who died Monday of cancer at his Northwest Baltimore home, used bTC the "hello" tag during analytical discussions with colleagues when he had a strong conviction after careful consideration of other opinions.

And he used his "hello" calling card often as a member of the Grove Park Improvement Association during brainstorming sessions on ways to improve the community.

"He had one of the best analytical minds in the group," said Richard Holley, who, as president of the Grove Park Improvement Association, worked with Mr. Robinson for nearly 30 years.

"He'd say 'hello' and just jump in. But before I made any decisions, I'd talk to him. "

Mr. Robinson's neighborhood and Kappa Alpha Psi, his fraternity, were important parts of his life -- and he worked hard for both. Mr. Holley said Mr. Robinson was "vociferous" in keeping his Northwest Baltimore neighborhood safe and quiet.

"He didn't want the blight that happened to the rest of the city to happen here," Mr. Holley said of the quiet tree-lined neighborhood, where Mr. Robinson lived for more than 30 years. "We're a hidden secret."

Last summer, fearing the proposed construction of townhouses nearby might be disruptive to Grove Park, Mr. Robinson and several Grove Park residents met with Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke and other officials to show their opposition.

"I think he [Mr. Robinson] had more to say than anyone else," Mr. Holley said of the meeting. The housing project has been put on hold.

A native of Baltimore, Mr. Robinson graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1951 and Lincoln University in Pennsylvania with a bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1955.

He worked briefly at Sinai Hospital before enlisting in the Navy, where he completed training as a seaman in 1956. As a result of his basic training performance, he was selected to attend officer candidate school in Newport, R.I. He was discharged as a lieutenant in 1960.

He returned to school upon his discharge and in 1971 received a master's degree in chemistry from what is now Morgan State University.

Mr. Robinson was a chemical engineer at Edgewood Arsenal in Harford County from 1962 to 1981, a physical scientist at the Army's Air Defense Command headquarters in Dover, N.J., from 1981 to 1982 and a general engineer at the Army Materiel Command in Alexandria, Va. from 1982 until he retired in 1989.

During retirement, he taught chemistry for several semesters at Morgan State.

He joined Kappa Alpha Psi while at Lincoln University and was very active in the Baltimore chapter in recent years.

Donald Rigby, one of his fraternity brothers, said Mr. Robinson made great efforts to maintain the pool at the Kappa Family Center in Linthicum.

An avid reader and gardener, Mr. Robinson kept his garden orderly and carefully plotted.

"He was always a person who took every job he had to do very seriously," said his wife, the former Ida Elaine Paige, whom he married in 1956. "He was a brilliant man who always had a plan for what he did -- whether it was in the garden or elsewhere."

Services were held yesterday at Christian Center on the campus of Morgan State University.

Other survivors include two sons, David Walter Robinson of Baltimore and Duncan Scott Robinson of Beaufort, S.C.; a daughter, Lisa Maxine Robinson Greene of Owings Mills; and three grandchildren.

Pub Date: 5/04/97

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