Colorado mourns the loss of Tom Robinson, longtime Associate Commissioner of the Colorado High School Activities Association, co-founder of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and husband of its namesake director, Cleo Parker Robinson. Robinson died early Monday morning after a battle with several health issues, including colon cancer, according to a rep for Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. He was 76 years old.
Robinson was an influential and beloved high school sports figure in Colorado. In 2001, he became the first black administrator of CHSAA, the governing organization for all high school operations in the state. He was widely respected throughout his 20 years there for his passion, dedication and integrity. He was also president of the National Association of Sports Officials and he worked as a replay coordinator for the Big-12 conference. Robinson announced in December that he would be retiring from CHSAA at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.
“Beyond the impact Tom has had in this association, our state and nationally over his 30+ year career as a coach, teacher, administrator, white hat umpire, Hall of Famer, Big 12 proofreading expert, husband, father and grandfather, we are all better people for having had Tom in our lives,” CHSAA Commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said in A declaration Monday.
“Even from the outside, Tom was definitely someone to aspire to,” Rashaan Davis, CHSAA’s first-ever assistant commissioner overseeing operations, said in the CHSAA statement. “He always seemed cool and calm and composed, which is what I needed. So being a staff member now and understanding that Tom laid the groundwork for me to be a black man working at CHSAA and to be an educator stepping into this role, being patient and acknowledging all voices at this level is very powerful, I don’t think anyone has done it better.
“It’s like standing on the shoulders of a giant and I hope the work we all do continues its legacy,” Davis wrote.
This May would have marked Robinson’s 52nd wedding anniversary to Cleo Parker Robinson.
The couple founded Cleo Parker Robinson Dance the year they married. Together they created a beloved cultural institution in Denver and a dance company widely respected around the world. Robinson was one of Cleo’s biggest supporters and a key figure in the CPRD, where he served on the board and worked as the company’s business manager for many years. He was instrumental in the company’s work to secure the company’s permanent headquarters in the historic Shorter AME building at Five Points.
“Tom has been the love of my life for over 60 years. The journey he and I have shared for over 50 years was meant to be,” Cleo Parker Robinson wrote in a statement. each other in all things, to our family, to our dreams and to our community. We have always known that the other was at hand in absolute love. I will carry his light in my heart forever.
Robinson was a graduate of Regis Jesuit High School in Aurora.
In 1969, he graduated from Colorado State University, where he competed in football, basketball, and track and field and earned the nickname “The Bomb” for his skills on the football field. He returned to Regis Jesuit as a teacher in 1969, where he taught mathematics and coached several sports. He notably worked as Regis’ head basketball coach from 1983 to 1993. While there, he also served as the school’s first diversity director in the late 1990s, creating a program to support students from all walks of life which is still ongoing today.
“We were extremely saddened to learn of Tom Robinson’s passing. Our community had been praying for him recently after learning of his health issues,” a Regis Jesuit representative said. “Tom’s gentle and kind manner is the embodiment of the Ignatian principle of personalized cura – caring for the individual – and his legacy will live on in our community as we continue to see him as a model of what it means to be a Jesuit educator.
Current Regis Assistant Director for Mission, Ministry and Diversity, Saj Kabadi, remembers Robinson as a mentor.
“Tom Robinson is quite simply one of the finest human beings I have ever known,” Kabadi said. “No one has had a greater influence on me in Catholic and Jesuit education than Tom. He always proceeded with extraordinary grace, class and integrity. He had a wonderful infectious laugh and an immense love for his family.
After 31 years working at Regis Jesuit, Robinson became Deputy Commissioner of CHSAA in 2001. Throughout his career, he also commanded high school and college football, winning numerous awards and accolades, including the Lloyd’s Prize. Colorado High School Gaskill 2020. Coaches Association, the Mountain West Conference’s Outstanding Service Award and the John Adams Officiating Award, sponsored by CHSAA, Mountain West and Western Athletic Conferences. In 2008, he was named an Outstanding Official of the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame.
Robinson is remembered for his commitment to helping others grow, succeed and achieve excellence.
In addition to his responsibilities for overseeing the golf program and CHSAA officials, Robinson helped develop a sportsmanship program encouraging fans to “cheer your time, not against your opponents.”
“Tom has been an inspiration in so many ways,” CHSAA Assistant Commissioner Bethany Brookens said in a statement. “He taught me how to play golf, he and Cleo taught us all how to have a wonderful and successful marriage, he taught me the formal mechanics of basketball and he gave me loyal friendship and respect. for all. Incredible, ethical and good man and mentor; I already miss Tom a lot.
Robinson is survived by his wife and their son Malik Robinson, Executive Director of CPRD. In lieu of flowers, Robinson’s family is requesting that donations be made to Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. Information about a memorial celebration is forthcoming.
This is a developing story. We’ll update it when we know more.