COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — Political, business, judicial and educational leaders from across Georgia gathered in Columbus Friday afternoon to say goodbye to a friend and leader.
A memorial service for an attorney, lobbyist, and community leader Pete Robinson was held at his church — St. Luke United Methodist Church.
Former governor Nathan Deal, Speaker of the House David Ralston, Mercer University President Bill Underwood, friend Rob Willis, and First Baptist Church Pastor Jimmy Elder agree on one thing — Robinson made difference in his community and state.
Robinson, a partner in the Atlanta-based law firm King & Spalding, died July 1 after a brief battle with cancer. He was 66.
“People who have known Pete well and worked closely with him loved being in his narrative and having him in theirs,” said Elder, a close friend and fellow Mercer University Board of Trustees member with Robinson. “Rep. Richard Smith, a close friend and ally, said to me, ‘Everyone needs a Pete Robinson in their life. Someone who is a visionary, mentor, friend, and brings out the best—someone who sees beyond your limitations and sets the bar on servant leadership.'”
Robinson and Deal served together in the General Assembly in the 1990s. But when Deal was elected governor in 2010, he turned to Robinson for his support and help.
“And fortunately for me, he concluded I was the best choice,” Deal said. “Now, Pete’s seal of approval was very beneficial to me — beyond measure. Because his reputation exceeded mind. And, together we won.”
Deal then tabbed Robinson to help set up his administration. Over the next eight years, Robinson was co-chairman of the Judicial Nominating Commission, having a hand in 166 judicial appointments Deal made as governor.
Congressman Drew Ferguson, who represents the West Georgia district where Robinson lived, said the overflow crowd was testimony to Robinson’s influence and his ability to make and hold friends.
“It says a lot about the influence Pete had and his willingness to put others ahead of himself,” Ferguson said. “Pete was genuinely concerned about his fellow Georgians, making sure we all had better lives.”
Ralston was told by a colleague when he got to the General Assembly in 1993 he would not like Robinson, who was then the President Pro-Tem of the Senate.
“He became my buddy,” Ralston said.
As a lawmaker, Robinson sponsored legislation that created the Georiga lottery and the HOPE scholarship.
In Columbus, he was involved in many public-private partnerships including the RiverCenter, CivicCenter, and the new Mercer Medical School.
“Pete Robinson left a legacy that will endure for generations,” Ralston said. “His footprints are visible all over the state. But nowhere more evident than the place he loved so much, Columbus.”
And the new Mercer University Medical School is part of that legacy. Along with the late Tom Black, Elder, philanthropist Brad Turner and Richard Smith, they had the vision to pursue a medical school in Columbus. The school will open this fall.
“He was a quiet, effective source of wisdom for our elected leaders,” Underwood said. “And. really for all of us who sought Pete’s counsel. … While Pete is no longer physically present, he is with us nonetheless. … He will live on through the lives of the sick who will be healed by the doctors trained here in Columbus.”