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Robert G. Robb, Sr.

January 2, 1920 July 20, 2016
Robert G. Robb, Sr.
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Obituary for Robert G. Robb, Sr.

Hon. Robert Glenn Robb, Sr., age 96, of Birmingham, Michigan and formerly of Indianapolis, Indiana, died Wednesday, July 20, 2016. A retired federal mediator in Detroit and a former judge of the Superior Court of Marion County, Indiana, he was the beloved husband of the late Mary Jane (English) Robb, and the devoted father of James (Kim Shierk) Robb, Mary Ann (Robert) Victor, and Robert (Becky) Robb, Jr. He was the cherished grandfather of Christopher, Katy, Calah, and Alexandra Robb. He is also survived by his sister, Betty Ruth McCleerey of Greenfield, Indiana, and thirteen nieces and nephews.

Judge Robb was born on January 2, 1920, to the late James Campbell Robb and Anna Wilson Robb in Terre Haute, Indiana. A 1938 graduate of Indianapolis Arsenal Technical High School, he attended Indiana University, earning a B.S. in Business just after the beginning of World War II. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, rose to the rank of Captain, served as an instructor and later a B-29 bombardier in the 357th Bomb Squadron of the 20th Air Force based on Guam, and was flying a bombing mission the day the Japanese surrendered. His crew on the bomber named “What, Me Worry?” flew one of the longest single missions of the war with a flight duration of nearly 17 and a half hours. He earned the Air Medal and other recognition for his efforts as a trainer and a combat bombardier.

Upon returning from the war, he attended Indiana University Law School, graduating and gaining admission to the Indiana State Bar in 1948. Following graduation, he formed the Indianapolis law firm of Reese, Robb and Young and served as an assistant county prosecuting attorney. He later joined the Indianapolis law firm that took the name of Rocap, Rocap, Reese, and Robb. In 1952, he married Mary Jane English of Sheridan, Indiana, a clerk in the Marion County Inheritance Tax Office.

In 1958, at the age of only 38, he was elected Judge of Superior Court No. 3 of Marion County, Indiana. After completing his term on the bench, Judge Robb returned to the Rocap law firm while also being elected to the Indianapolis School Board. An expert in labor relations and employment law, he was admitted in 1960 to the bar of the United States Supreme Court on the motion of Arthur J. Goldberg, who was soon to become the U.S. Secretary of Labor and later Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

In 1967, Judge Robb was appointed Commissioner of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service in Washington D.C., then assigned to work in Detroit, moving his family to Birmingham, Michigan in 1968. He worked full-time as a federal mediator throughout metropolitan Detroit until his retirement in 1997 at the age of 77. During those years, he taught labor relations at Wayne State University. A good athlete and a lover of all sports, but especially the Detroit Tigers and golf, Judge Robb later worked as a marshal at Normandy Oaks Golf Course in Royal Oak. A high school basketball and baseball player, he played softball into adulthood and coached teams in the Birmingham, Michigan Little League. An auto racing fan, he attended his first Indy 500 in 1938 and continued going to the race for many decades.

A loving man of warm humor, keen intelligence, good common sense, and religious faith, Judge Robb was as devoted to his family as his career. His 47 years of marriage to Mary Jane set a rich foundation for the lives of their three children and four grandchildren. He inspired, taught, and advised his children in their school and sports activities and later throughout their business careers.

Across three decades, Judge Robb served as an usher and member of the finance committee of the First United Methodist Church of Birmingham, Michigan. He also volunteered for more than a decade as a “Red Coat” patient care aide at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

Judge Robb was a Life Member of the Senior Men’s Club of Birmingham, Michigan, and earlier was a member of the Indianapolis Athletic Club, the Riviera Club, the Meridian Street Methodist Church, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the American Judicature Society, the American Bar Association, and, for 68 years, the Indiana State Bar Association. He was also a 78-year Diamond Circle member of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity. Until literally the day of his passing, Judge Robb remained attuned to current affairs, regularly discussing important court decisions, political developments, and sports with friends and family alike. He loved a good joke, good music, good steak, and a good martini.

Friends may visit at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 1368 N. Crooks Road (between 14-15 Mile Rds.) Wednesday, July 27th and Thursday, July 28th, 3-8pm. A Funeral Service will take place at First United Methodist Church, 1589 W. Maple Road, Birmingham, Friday, July 29th at 11am. Friends may visit at church beginning at 10am.

Memorial tributes may be made to the First United Methodist Church, 1589 W. Maple Road, Birmingham, Michigan 48009 or Birmingham Community House, 380 S. Bates Street, Birmingham, Michigan 48009.

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