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Kenneth Leon Robinson

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Kenneth Leon Robinson was born in Olympia, Washington on July 2, 1921, the son of Charles and Elsie Caspar Robinson. Four years later the family moved to Wenatchee, Washington, and subsequently to Yakima, Washington, where his father managed a number of fruit farms. He grew up on one of the farms in Yakima, went to a rural school and graduated from Yakima High School in 1938. That fall he entered Oregon State College. Following graduation in 1942, he entered the army as a 2nd Lt. in Field Artillery. After several stateside assignments, he volunteered to go to China with OSS to assist in training Chinese commando units. Fortunately, the war ended before they could be deployed.
Following his discharge from the army in late 1945, he worked briefly in various jobs related to the fruit industry near his parents home in Wenatchee. While there he received an offer of a graduate assistantship in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Cornell University. He spent the next year as a Master's candidate studying spraying efficiency on New York fruit farms. In the fall of 1948, he moved to Cambridge, Mass, to undertake a Ph.D. program in Economics at Harvard University. An Elmhirst scholarship enabled him to spend a year at Oxford. He traveled with friends on the continent and returned in the fall of 1949, completing the requirements for a Ph.D. in 1952.In 1952, he joined the Department of Agricultural Economics at Cornell as an Assistant Professor. He spent the next 36 years teaching and giving talks throughout the state on topics related to farm and food policy, agricultural prices and the economic outlook. He took leaves from Cornell to serve as a Fulbright lecturer in Australia, a visiting lecturer at U.C. Berkeley and a visiting economist at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Nigeria. Other assignments included a summer in Japan and lecturing in Portugal and various African countries while based in Nigeria. Ken and Jean Anderson were married in 1954. Following marriage, they lived for two years in Aurora, N.Y., where Jean taught at Wells College. In 1956 they moved to Ithaca. Jean and their two sons accompanied Ken on most of his foreign assignments and his semester as a visiting professor at Berkeley. Ken was recognized as an outstanding teacher. One of his undergraduate advisees, John Dyson, endowed a professorship in Ken's honor. He was joint author with his friend and colleague, William Tomek, of a widely used textbook on agricultural prices, entitled Agricultural Product Prices. He retired from Cornell as emeritus professor in 1987. Following retirement Ken and his wife took at least one trip each year, often to a foreign destination or to one of the National Parks in the West. He continued with a number of volunteer activities including tax counseling for senior citizens and low income households. He also sorted books for the Friends of the Library book sale, and was made a life member of the Friends in 2008. He is survived by his wife Jean, two sons, James and Alan, and two grandsons.
Donations in lieu of flowers are requested to be made to Cornell University to be added to the Kenneth L and Jean R Robinson Scholarship Fund benefiting students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Published in Ithaca Journal on Dec. 10, 2010
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