Olympian Mack Robinson Dead at 88


Matthew “Mack” Robinson, silver medalist in the 1936 Olympic 200 meters in Berlin and the older brother of baseball Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson, died Sunday at St. Luke’s Medical Center in Pasadena after a lengthy illness.

Robinson, 88, suffered a stroke on Christmas Day 1990, underwent quintuple bypass heart surgery in June 1991 and has been disabled and in and out of hospitals ever since. His death was attributed to diabetes complications, kidney failure and pneumonia.

A graduate of Muir Technical High and Pasadena Junior (now City) College, Robinson also attended the University of Oregon for one year. He won the 100-yard dash in the state high school meet to lead Muir Tech to the championship in 1934. While a student at Pasadena, he earned a spot on the Olympic team by finishing second to Jesse Owens in the final trials.

At Berlin, after equaling the Olympic record in his heat, Robinson finished a close second to Owens in the finals.

He returned to Pasadena and set national junior college records of 9.6 seconds in the 100, 20.9 in the 220 and 25 feet 5 1/2 inches in the long jump. At Oregon, in 1938, he won the NCAA 220 and AAU 200 meters.


Robinson worked for the city of Pasadena in a variety of capacities for many years, and also was actively involved in volunteer work with youth groups, particularly in the troubled northwest part of Pasadena where he lived from the time his mother brought her family West from Cairo, Ga., when Mack was 6.

“Mack worked at a lot of menial jobs, but he never lost the smile on his face,” said Delano Robinson, his fifth wife. “He always had time for kids, his and everyone else’s.”

Mack and Delano would have celebrated their 45th anniversary in September.

Robinson also worked for years to get Pasadena to erect a monument to his brother Jackie for being the first black player in organized baseball.

The Pasadena Robinson Memorial, which honors both brothers, was dedicated two years ago and is located in Centennial Plaza, across the street from City Hall.

In addition to his wife, Delano, Robinson is survived by three sons, Wayne, 43; William, 37; and Edward, 32; and three daughters, Kathy, 41; Betty, 38, of San Bernardino; and Rose Marie, 35, from his immediate family. From previous marriages, he had a son, Donald, of Victorville, and a daughter, Lorraine, of Altadena. Another son, Kenneth Mack, was murdered in 1967.

He also is survived by 25 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.

Burial is being handled by the Mountain View Mortuary in Altadena and a service will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. at Scott United Methodist Church, 444 E. Orange Grove Blvd., in Pasadena.

The family is requesting donations be sent to the Pasadena Robinson Memorial, P.O. Box 70407, Pasadena 91117. The executive director is Diane Scott: (626) 584-6648.