Roger Robison died on Nov. 8, 2018, at home in Bozeman.
Roger was born June 22, 1920, in Gloversville, New York, the beloved only child of Frank and Lula Robison. Roger had strong ties to the Adirondack area of his birth. “In one sense, I never really moved away, upstate New York was always part of me,” Roger reflected. Roger spent summers swimming, canoeing, camping, fishing and winters snowshoeing through a generous amount of snow.
The Robison family car trip west in 1941 with stops at Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Pike’s Peak, Yellowstone and Yosemite is credited in family lore as a reason Roger eventually moved West.
Roger earned a BA degree in history from Dartmouth College in 1942 and a BD from Oberlin Seminary in 1945. While finishing seminary and serving his first parish in central Ohio, Roger met Olive Bainton who was traveling to colleges for the American Friends Service Committee. Finding a deep shared interest in social justice and a common love of the outdoors (and baby goats), Olive and Roger fell in love. Olive and Roger married in New Haven, Connecticut, on June 22, 1945. Roger held various pastorships throughout his career, and Olive was always an involved partner in their ministry.
After oldest child, Dave, was born in Ohio, Roger and Olive acted on their western interest. In 1947, Roger hitchhiked to Montana to see about a church appointment. The Bitterroot Valley’s Corvallis Methodist Church was Roger’s first Montana appointment and perhaps his favorite because Corvallis is the place where Roger and Olive settled when it was time to retire in 1984.
A United Methodist minister for 41 years, Roger served churches in Weston (Ohio), Corvallis, Fort Benton, Billings, Great Falls, Butte and Missoula (all in Montana) and Sitka and Anchorage (in Alaska) as well as ten years as District Superintendent.
Roger had a strong voice for singing whether the “Brother Van Song” or “Green Grow the Rushes, Oh”. Many nights sleepyhead Robison children fell asleep in the car as “Rog Ol” sang “Day is Dying in the West” in harmony. This love of singing continues as a family tradition.
Roger was always up for a bridge game, always hopeful that the Giants would win their next baseball game, always ready for a drive in the sunshine to see the mountains.
Roger’s interest in Montana history grew along with his collection of postal covers (not just a stamp, but the entire envelope with address, stamp and cancellation). Roger specialized in places which are now ‘ghost towns,’ but had post offices in the days of the Montana territory and early statehood years.
Roger’s love for Nature was strong throughout his life. Roger and Olive started their kids camping, backpacking, hiking, fishing at an early age. Nothing tasted better for breakfast than freshly caught trout cooked over the fire.
Roger’s wife, Olive, died in Bozeman in 2013. Roger is survived by his five children, Dave (Judy) Robison of Portland, Oregon; Helen (Stuart) White of Portland, Oregon; Jim (Chris) Robison-Cox of Bozeman; Tom (Alice) Robison of Bozeman; and Phil (Grace Hodges) Robison of Helena; by grandchildren, Rachel White, Sylvia Salazar, Libbey White, Noah Robison-Cox, Emily Torstveit, Greta Robison, Ellie Hodges and Amalie Hodges; and by five great-grandchildren.
In accordance with his wishes, no public memorial service will be held. A family gathering will take place at a later time. Those wishing to honor his life with a gift may write a check to Bozeman United Methodist Church, 121 S. Willson Ave., Bozeman, MT, 59715, adding “Roger Robison Memorial” in the memo line. These gifts will be sent to help with disaster relief efforts.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com.