Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III
Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III went to be with the Lord on May 9, 2017 surrounded by his loving wife, Joan and family. Bill, “WTR,” or “Robbie” to his closest of friends, was loved and cherished by all who knew him. His deep and sustained Catholic faith guided his love of family, law and community.
He was born to Wm. T. and Hilda (nee Ratermann) Robinson on January 6, 1945. Bill lived his formative years in Cincinnati, growing up in Mt. Auburn, Corryville and Clifton, educated at Holy Name Elementary School by the Ursaline Nuns and competing throughout the city in a variety of sports with the Friars Boys Club.
At age 14, Bill lived and studied at St. Gregory’s Seminary, of the Athenaeum of Ohio in Mt. Washington. Bill then transferred to Thomas More College earning his A.B. Degree in 1967, and most importantly, meeting the love of his life, a cute co-ed named Joan Wernersbach. Bill and Joan married in 1969. The young couple moved to Lexington, Ky, where Bill attended the University of Kentucky College of Law. Bill graduated in 1971 and returned to Cincinnati to begin his legal career.
After working a few years for an established law firm in Cincinnati, Bill and a law school classmate co-founded their own law firm in Northern Kentucky. Bill’s career flourished as his reputation for being competent, dependable and efficient spread throughout the state and the region. In 2007, Bill joined with another law school classmate to open the Northern Kentucky office of Frost Brown Todd LLC, a law firm with offices in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Virginia, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Texas. Bill served as the member-in-charge of the firm’s Northern Kentucky office in Florence. Throughout his legal career of over 45 years, Bill has been a volunteer leader in his profession and in his community.
No matter your professional or social status, native Northern Kentuckian, or new to town, Bill always found time for a meeting that quickly turned to a discussion of how he could be of assistance in furthering your goals. Politicians, corporate leaders and lawyers had Bill at the top of their “First Day Call List” and benefitted from Bill’s deep knowledge of Northern Kentucky.
Bill was active in the American Bar Association for more than 45 years as the 135th President (2011-12) and Treasurer with an aggregate annual operating budget of over $200,000,000 (2005-08). He was the only ABA member to serve in both offices. Bill served 10 years on the ABA Board of Governors, over 40 years in the ABA House of Delegates, 9 years as The Kentucky State Delegate and as Chair of several ABA Standing Committees. His ABA service included the Boards of the American Bar Foundation, ABA Retirement Funds, American Bar Endowment and the ABA Journal. Bill is a Life Member and Fellow of the Sixth Circuit Judicial Conference, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, International Society of Barristers, Life Leadership, and American Bar Foundation. Bill served as Chair of the Board of the National Judicial College on the Campus of the University of Nevada at Reno.
Bill was a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the American Law Institute (Honorary Chair 2011-12), the International Association of Defense Counsel, the Product Liability Advisory Council and a past Commissioner (Ky.) on the Uniform Law Commission. Bill served as, the 50th President, Kentucky Bar Association (1985-86); President, Kentucky Bar Foundation (1988-89); Founding Chair (1986-88), Kentucky IOLTA Fund; President, National Caucus of State Bar Associations (1995-96) and served on Board of the American Inns of Court Foundation (Executive Committee, Governance Committee and Development Committee). He was also Co-Founder and 1st President of the Salmon P. Chase American Inn of Court. In 2015, Bill became an Honorary Adjunct Faculty Member of Jindal Global Law School in Delhi, India.
Bill’s volunteer community service included: Chair (twice), Cincinnati/N. Ky. Int’l Airport Board; Chair, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce (the only Kentuckian to serve as both President of the Kentucky Bar Association and Chair of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce), Chair, Cincinnati USA Partnership; Founding Secretary-Treasurer, Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (over 30 year) and the Founding Executive Board of REDI Cincinnati; and Chair of N. Ky. Chamber of Commerce; plus volunteer board service (by appointment or by invitation) in higher education, transportation, the arts and human services including Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra; Taft Museum of Art; Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts; United Way of Greater Cincinnati; the Red Cross, Redwood School and Rehabilitation Center (over 50 year), and Co-founder of the Dorothy Wood Foundation (to benefit Redwood).
His awards and recognitions include: Thomas More Medal from Thomas More College; Judge Learned Hand Human Relations Award from American Jewish Committee; Distinguished Service Award from the National Judicial College; Distinguished Service Award from the National Center for State Courts; Francis Award from the Friars Club; Certification of Appreciation for Lifetime Pro Bono Services/Support from the Legal Services Corporation; Lincoln Award from Northern Kentucky University; Outstanding Lawyer Award from Kentucky Bar Association; Themis Award from Cincinnati Bar Association; and Honorary Doctor of Laws and of Humanities Degrees from a number law schools, colleges and universities including Catholic University of America, Xavier University, Northern Kentucky University Salmon P. Chase Law School and Thomas More College.
Bill was recently recognized by REDI Cincinnati and presented their inaugural “Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III Upward and Onward Award (2017)” for over 30 years of regional leadership in economic development.
The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce announced the creation of the “Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III Northern Kentucky Economic Development Award” to be presented annually to the individual, entity, company or organization demonstrating significant advancement of the economic development efforts in Northern Kentucky. Fittingly, the initial recipient of this award will be Bill, in recognition of Bill’s leadership in the formation and of Tri-ED.
Bill is survived by his wife, Joan, son Wm. T. “Tay” IV (Jennifer), daughter-in-law Bridget, four grandchildren; Brooke Taylor, William T. V, James Raymond, and Rosemary Joan, brother Bernard (Janice) and sister Bettie Jo Laidlaw (Andy). He was predeceased by his son, Todd.
Bill loved gifts that impact lives now and long term. In lieu of flowers that have a short, limited life the family appreciates your considering making memorial donations to Redwood, 71 Orphanage Road, Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017.
Visitation will be on Thursday, May 18th at St. Pius X Church, 348 Dudley Road, Edgewood, Ky. from the hours of 3 PM to 8 PM. The Mass of Christian Burial will follow on Friday, May 19th at 11:30 AM., also at St. Pius X Church. Entombment will follow Mass and take place at St. Mary’s Cemetery, 2201 Dixie Hwy, Ft. Mitchell, KY. SWINDLER & CURRIN FUNERAL HOME is serving the family. For private online condolences visit www.swindler-currinfh.com