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Eliot F. Robinson

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- Eliot Finley Robinson died peacefully on Aug. 1, 2006, in Sarasota, after a long illness. He was 88.

Born in Detroit on July 19, 1918, the son of Alma and Mitchell B Robinson, he moved to Toledo, Ohio, as a youngster where his father was a builder, and then back to Detroit after the Depression. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in economics and graduated from Harvard Graduate School of Design pursuing his passion, architecture, under the tutelage of Walter Gropius. He joined the Navy as a lieutenant commander 12 days after Pearl Harbor and was in Naval Intelligence as part of Admiral McCain’s staff in the Pacific, receiving the bronze star.

In 1950 he married Sarah (Sally) Ewell Winston, the granddaughter of noted architect, Albert Kahn, and the daughter of Lydia Winston Malbin, of New York, a friend of artists and the collector of 20th century art and Italian Futurism. He resided in Birmingham Michigan for 35 years and worked in the offices of Albert Kahn, the firm of Eero Saarinen, and then he co-founded his own architectural practice, Frederick Stickel and Associates. He designed numerous homes, churches, dormitories, office buildings and churches in the Detroit area including the State Police Training Academy in Lansing, Mich., and dormitories at the University of Michigan which received a national AIA award for design excellence.

He was a member of the Birmingham (Michigan) City Planning Commission for 13 years (1954-67) and chairman for four years. During that time they developed a master plan and imposed height restrictions on all buildings. He was also a board member and president of the Birmingham-Bloomfield Art Association for six years (1960-66). In addition, he was a trustee of Roeper School (1963-70) and taught architecture at Lawrence Tech. He was a member of American Institute of Architects since 1950.

In his later years, he and his wife lived in Sarasota, Fla.; Old Bennington, Vt., for 40 years (Monument Circle); and, Charlotte, Vt., where they had homes.

Eliot was a man of incomparable charm, humanity and wit, as well as a wonderful conversationalist and host. He understood and imparted the important lessons in life to his family. Kind and always genuinely interested in others, it was accurate when others remarked he was the true definition of “gentle” in gentleman.

He was father to his children, Peter Robinson of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Lydia Robinson and Suzanne Buchsbaum, both of Princeton, N.J., and Sarah McGarghan of Charlotte, all of whom survive him along with his wife, Sally Robinson. He is also survived by nine grandchildren.

Private services will be held in Bloomfield Hills, followed a family burial at White Chapel Cemetery in Troy, Mich. Contributions in his name can be made to the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center in Birmingham, Mich., or the Founder’s Garden Club in Sarasota.
Published in Bennington Banner on Aug. 7, 2006
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