St. John Robinson, 74, of Billings, died March 12, 2018, at RiverStone Hospice House, with his family at his side.
G.A. St. John Robinson, Jr. was born to George A.S. Robinson and Lulu May Schnarr Robinson on 11 November 1943, in Belize, British Honduras. His sister Inez Mary joined the family a couple of years later. In 1947, the family moved to Bluefields, Nicaragua. Realizing that George would be posted frequently to different countries in Central and South America for his work in the lumber industry, Lulu started the process in 1950 to move the family to New Orleans, where many people from Central America looked to the Ochsner Clinic for healthcare. St. John attended elementary school at McDonough 14 and attended St. Andrew’s School, an Episcopalian boarding school in Sewanee, Tennessee. George would visit as frequently as he could, but from 1950 to 1963, the family was based in New Orleans. In 1963, they moved to Baton Rouge so both children could pursue higher education at Louisiana State University. St. John received his BA in 1966, MA in 1971, and PhD in 1981 from LSU.
In 1970, St. John moved to Tacoma, Washington, to teach Spanish at Pacific Lutheran University. There, he met and married Julie Price on 16 August 1975. They moved to Baton Rouge in 1977, where he was a teaching assistant and continued work on his thesis. In 1979, he accepted a position at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, where first son Paul C.S. was born in July 1980. St. John received his Ph.D. in 1981 and accepted a position at EMC in Billings, teaching Spanish. The legislature did not meet to fund his position that year, so he accepted a one-year appointment at Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia. He was elated with the move to Billings in August 1982 because he had spent a summer during college working at Yellowstone National Park and loved the area. In 1983, the family became homeowners and second son John A.T. was born in March 1984. During school year 1986-87, the family moved to the now independent country of Belize for St. John to research migration patterns with the support of a Fulbright Grant. Friends and family visited during that memorable year.
In 1987, St. John once more took up his lifelong favorite occupation of teaching Spanish and, in June 1991, third son Julian M.G. was born. From 1990 to 1992, St. John chaired the Academic Senate during the time the change from quarters to semesters was accomplished.
During his lengthy teaching career at EMC/MSU-B from 1982 to 2017, he taught numerous Spanish courses and always made sure he taught a Spanish 101/102 course because he strongly believed that students need a good basic foundation. During his tenure as professor, he served on numerous academic committees, was a Board Member with the Montana Migrant Council, Chair of Modern Languages, and took many groups of students on study trips to Mexico, Spain and China. He traveled a great deal to complete research begun during the Fulbright year in Belize and in 2006 published the culmination of that research, Peopling Belize: Chapters in Migration.
St. John is preceded in death by his parents, and survived by stepmother Lilleth Robinson of Miami, FL. He is survived by wife Julie; sons Paul (Diane) of Longmont, CO; John (Nancy) of Billings; and Julian of Missoula; his sister Mary Cross (Joseph), and their children Sarah and David. He is also survived by many cousins in the USA, Belize, Canada and Europe. He leaves his beloved dog Maddie and cat George Catlett.
Cremation has taken place. A memorial gathering is planned for March 24 at MSU-Billings from 1 to 4 p.m. in the Northcutt Steele Gallery area on the first floor of the Liberal Arts Building.
Memorial gifts may be sent to Montana Health FCU, Attn: Dennis Wizeman, P.O. Box 2376, Billings MT 59103-2376, where a fund has been set up until the family decides on the form of a memorial at MSU-Billings.
The family wishes to thank Dr. Fabregas and the staff of Billings Clinic Cancer Center and ICC who cared for him during cancer treatments.
They also wish to extend heartfelt thanks to the staff at the RiverStone Health Hospice House for the incredible care St. John received during his final weeks. Lastly to friends, family, colleagues, and students who visited from near and far, you made St. John’s last days happier and brighter than we could have hoped for.
From St. John’s first students at PLU in 1970 to his last students at MSU-Billings in 2017, he loved teaching and found many of his students to be interesting, engaging and a joy to have as lifelong friends and colleagues. He is gone from us too soon. Adios, Profe.