A Saint goes marching in: Tim Robertson, long-time VASJ educator, gets a fitting farewell

Tim Robertson

The Villa Angela-St. Joseph High community lost one of its stoutest leaders on April 21 when Timothy Robertson passed away while hospitalized at the Cleveland Clinic. He had been on a waiting list for a heart transplant. The highly regarded 66-year-old educator taught advanced placement mathematics at the school for more than four decades until his recent retirement. He also served as the school’s academic dean.

The measure of the regard in which he was held was highly evident as hundreds of students, teachers and other friends and supporters of the East 185th Street school turned out for his wake at Brickman Brothers funeral home in Willoughby. So many came to pay their final respects that people stood in line for two hours, or longer, to reach the viewing parlor where they extended sympathies to his wife, Georganne, and their four children: Jeffrey, Timothy Jr., Melanie and Kevin.

And, in a scene vaguely reminiscent of the classic movie “Goodbye, Mr. Chips,” dozens of VASJ students lined the front steps at Our Lady of the Lake church (formerly Holy Cross) on April 27, waiting for the casket to arrive and then escorting it inside for a Mass of Christian Burial. As the funeral party entered the church, where Robertson had served as a Eucharistic minister for many years, a solitary bugler played “When the Saints Go Marching In,” an appropriate tune considering that it was the St. Joseph High sports theme song for many years.

During most of his career at St. Joe and VASJ, Tim was a constant presence on the sidelines at football games and other athletic events, serving as the school’s official sports photographer. He also pitched in as a sports statistician for the athletic department. In his late thirties, he played for the “Open Pantry Old-Timers” in the Euclid Sunday morning softball league, a team composed primarily of Holy Cross parishioners.

For the funeral service, Father John McNulty, former pastor at Holy Cross, returned as the chief celebrant, assisted by the current pastor, Father Joseph Fortuna. In his eulogy, McNulty noted that Robertson was a teacher in more ways than one. In addition to teaching AP calculus in the classroom, “Tim also taught others, by his example, what it means to live a good Christian life,” McNulty said.

Shortly after earning his math degree from John Carroll University in 1966, Robertson accepted a position as a math teacher at St. Joseph, his alma mater (Class of ’62), and then spent the next 44 years at the school, including 20 years as chairman of the mathematics department. He also taught evening math courses at JCU, where he had earned his master’s degree in 1969.

Among his various duties at the high school, Robertson served stints as publicity director, bingo volunteer, moderator of the yearbook staff, director of graduation ceremonies and co-chairman of the joint curriculum committee that helped to oversee the merger between St. Joseph and Villa Angela in 1990.

The thousands of students who have learned the nuances of higher mathematics in Robertson’s classes include many who went on to enjoy successful careers in business. “He taught captains of industry,” noted one of his admirers.

Robertson, who was inducted into the VASJ Hall of Fame in 1999, will be remembered for the many contributions he made to his school and community, and for the impact he had on the lives of so many students.

John Sheridan

Retired journalist. From 1963 to 1972, wrote for and edited the Euclid News-Journal, predecessor to the Sun-Journal. From 1972 to 2000, I was a writer and editor for Industry Week magazine. Also have worked for the Plain Dealer as a part-time sportswriter, covering high school sports. And I was a contributor to the previous Euclid Observer. I have lived in Euclid for almost my entire life. I am a graduate of St. Joseph High School and John Carroll University.

Read More on Faith
Volume 2, Issue 3, Posted 4:05 PM, 05.04.2011