By Judd Liebman
Friends remembered Christopher “Bee-Bop” Robinson at a memorial service Monday for his ability to bring levity to almost all situations, even during his sickness. Robinson died Nov. 9 after battling leukemia for two years.
“I am blessed to have known Chris, because not only did he make me a better person, but he made every place he went a better place,” Austin Schoff ’13 said at the assembly Nov. 14 in Rugby Auditorium.
Robinson came from Cathedral Chapel School as a new ninth grader in September 2009. Shortly thereafter, he was diagnosed with leukemia, cancer of the blood cells, and took a leave of absence to start treatment in November 2009. Although Robinson never rejoined the Class of 2013 at school, he always considered himself a part of the community.
“Chris, ‘Bee-Bop,’ really did love Harvard-Westlake,” his father Quincy Robinson said. “When he was in the hospital, Chris always wore Harvard-Westlake gear, whether it was shorts or a T-shirt. He seemed to think he got better treatment that way.”
Quincy Robinson spoke on behalf of the Robinson family after speeches from four friends, baseball coach Matt LaCour, ninth grade dean Betsy Ilg and President Thomas C. Hudnut. Members of the Chamber Singers sang a rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” and Max Quilici ’12 played “No Woman, No Cry” on guitar.
Long-time friend Aaron Lyons ’13 said Robinson’s impact on others was “obvious by how many people wrote letters to his parents. It is also obvious based on how many people came to Rugby today.”
To help defray the Robinson family’s medical and funeral costs, students raised more than $7,000 from a “name-your-price” bake sale and in donations to a memorial by writing messages on baseballs.
Speakers said Robinson was an avid Yankee fan and described his hospital room as decorated with Yankee paraphernalia.
“If you brought up the Yankees, you would be there for an hour,” Kameron Lucas ’12 said in an interview. “He knew everything about the Yankees.”
During hospital visits, Robinson would frequently divert conversation from his condition to baseball.
“He was still wise-cracking, making jokes,” Colburn Pittman ’12 said of his hospital visits with Chris. “He didn’t want to burden us with [his sickness], so he’d push it to the side when he was talking with us.”
“He never wanted to talk about what was going with himself during those visits, how chemotherapy was affecting him, how his body was reacting, how he was feeling, did he need anything,” LaCour said. “You would try to ask him a question about his health, and he would just shrug his shoulders and say ‘I’m okay.’”
Robinson was a second baseman and pitcher who played with a sense of urgency and took every ground ball at 100 percent, teammate Langston McElroy ’12 said.
Sickness sidelined Robinson, but during hospital visits, he and LaCour “put together a covert mission: to get his year of eligibility back once he got back to school,” LaCour said.
Robinson was drawn to Harvard-Westlake partly because of the baseball players he knew from Ladera Little League, Quincy Robinson said.
“Chris never got to play a game in a Wolverine uniform,” LaCour said. “We use words like toughness and resiliency all the time. Chris embodied those traits each day throughout this process. As a program, we will make sure we embody the things Chris showed us, and forever go on about our business, both on and off the field, knowing that Chris is watching and rooting for us.”