Robert Shearer Robison was born on June 22, 1915 in Curwensville, Pennsylvania. His father Fred P. Robison, was born 1890 in PA. His mother, Beatrice L. Robison, was born 1889 in PA. His parents married in 1913 and he was their only child. His father was a printer, who owned and operated a print shop. His father was also a popular local entertainer, who performed as Master of Ceremonies, magician and ventriloquist with a dummy named "Jerry" at social events. His father's motto was, "A laugh every time your watch ticked!"
The family lived at 501 State Street on the corner of State and Thompson Streets in Curwensville, PA.
He attended local public school. According to his classmates, "He was always sketching. He was always drawing. It might be on a tablecloth as he sat in a hunting camp or sitting on a bench looking at the Susquehanna River." While in high school he decorated the windows of a local drug store with a display of cut-out football players before a big game on Thanksgiving Day.
He graduated high school on May 18, 1932, and was listed as the "Class Artist" in the year book.
In September of 1932 he attended the Carnegie Institute of Technology, School of Art, in Pittsburgh, PA. While a college student he earned extra money by painting signs for several local businesses.
In June 1936 he graduated Carnegie Tech with a BFA college degree.
On July 15, 1936 he addressed the Curwensville Rotary Club on the subject of "The ABCs of Art."
In September 1936 he moved to New York City to pursue a career as a freelance commercial artist. He lived with two other roommates in a lodging house at 165 West 20th Street in Manhattan.
In 1937 he drew Lance Darrow comics for the Centaur Comics Group under the pen name "Robbie."
He soon found work drawing pen and ink story illustrations for pulp magazines. His work appeared in Ace Sports, Champion Sports, Ten-Story Sports, 12 Sports Monthly, Ten Detective Aces, Private Detective, and Star Detective.
On April 10, 1942 he gave a lecture on the art of camouflage to members of the Curwensville Woman's Club.
On November 21, 1942 he enlisted in the Army during World War II. At that time he was recorded to be five-foot-five, 152 pounds. He served in Europe with the 99th Infantry. He was a writer and artist on the division newspaper, called The Checkerboard, in reference to the division's distinctive shoulder patch emblem. The Checkerboard published his comic strip about the exploits of a hapless G.I., called Private Van Dorn. He also contributed to Yank Magazine and Stars & Stripes. He received the Bronze Star Medal and the Croix de Guerre. After VE Day he worked for the Army Office of Public Relations in England. He was discharged in September 1946 as a Tech 4 Sergeant.
After the war he returned to his home town Curwensville, PA. His first post-war job was Art Instructor at his alma mater, the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh.
After only a few months he was hired as an Assistant Professor of Drawing in the School of Applied Arts at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio.
Two years later in 1948 he was hired as Chairman of the Commercial Art Department at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri.
In 1950 he married Caroline Bigler of Clearfield, PA. They settled in Ladue, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.
In September of 1955 he and his wife sailed on the S.S. New Amsterdam for a sabbatical sketching trip to explore peacetime Europe.
He illustrated over fifty children's books, including The Gay Poet - Eugene Field, Piang - The Moro Chieftain, James Whitcomb Riley - Hoosier Poet, Walter Johnson - King of Pitchers, Sailor Jack & Eddy, and Little Alfie, which he wrote and illustrated.
He was Art Director of the first thirty film strips on American history produced by Concordia Press.
On January 23, 1958 he was elected President of the St. Louis Art Director's Club. He was again elected President ten years later, which made him the only person ever elected to the position twice.
In 1962 he was a delegate member of Icograda, the International Congress of Graphic Design Associations.
In 1964 he attended the International Typographic & Design Conference in France.
Robert S. Robison died in St. John's Hospital in St. Louis at the age of fifty-five on November 27, 1970.
© David Saunders 2012