Longtime Bowling Green resident Lee Robertson has lived an extraordinary life that many of us should embody ourselves to live.
Roberston is a patriot, a veteran, a family man, a gentleman who for decades has been deeply involved in our community and is known as a man who is so well known and involved at Western Kentucky University that he earned the title “Mr. Western.”
Robertson, who is 98 years old, but looks nowhere near his age and seems to still get around town pretty well, really is a walking piece of history who has seen and done many things in his life and continues to go strong.
Robertson, a native of Calhoun, began making and being a part of history when he answered our country’s call as a young man during World War II when he served with the U.S. Army’s 44th tank battalion from 1942-45 and spent 18 months in the South Pacific. He was awarded five Bronze Arrow Heads for beachhead landings in New Guinea and the Philippine Islands.
We couldn’t be prouder of Robertson’s service to our country. Anyone who lived through landing and fighting on New Guinea and the Philippine Islands definitely deserves our praise and the praise of many others.
Beyond being a proud veteran, Robertson was also highly involved in education. Robertson is a 1950 graduate of WKU with a major in health and physical education and minors in English and biology. He completed his master’s degree in educational administration in 1957.
Robertson began his professional career as a teacher and coach at Park City High School in 1950-52 and then moved to his native McLean County where he was teacher, coach and principal at Livermore High School.
In 1957, he became assistant superintendent of Barren County schools. In 1958, he was named superintendent.
While in Glasgow, Robertson was an active member and president of the Alumni Association National Board of Directors.
In April 1960, President Kelly Thompson asked Robertson to return to Western as director of Alumni Affairs and Placement Services. As alumni director, Robertson was instrumental in increasing the number of clubs from one to more than 50, creating quality Alumni publications, and beginning an annual giving program and other alumni activities.
Robertson, and his wife, Joyce, have a daughter, Melinda; a son, Steve; and three granddaughters. Robertson was a member of the American Alumni Council and later the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. He was among the group that launched CASE-Kentucky to coordinate and unite advancement efforts among the state’s colleges and universities. In 2004, Robertson received CASE-Kentucky’s Beth K. Fields Award, which recognizes someone who continually goes over and above the call of duty and epitomizes the advancement profession.
Robertson would go on to have many other roles at WKU as the placement office became a separate department in 1971, but Robertson remained as alumni director until 1985. That’s when he retired for the first time and went to work in the private sector in Florida.
But Robertson soon returned from Florida and served as director of the WKU-Glasgow campus. Then he answered the call from Western again and served as men’s golf coach for six years.
Robertson now serves as special assistant to the vice president for Institutional Advancement, where his longtime association with Western alumni and friends allows him to assist the offices of Development and Alumni Relations and to continue his support and promotion of the University.
In August 2002, Robertson received the first Spirit of Western Award, which recognizes an individual who represents enthusiasm for Western, loyalty to the institution and principles of the Western experience and its motto “The Spirit Makes the Master.”
In 2005, Robertson was inducted into the WKU Hall of Fame.
For a man who has done so much for WKU and loves his alma mater as much as he does we believe he was most certainly worthy of being inducted into the WKU Hall of Fame.
As a community we are most fortunate to have a man of Robertson’s stature living amongst us. On Tuesday, on Robertson’s 98th birthday, dozens of his friends and colleagues decorated their cars and drove by his house as he, his wife and family were sitting outside to wish him a happy birthday in a wave parade to him.
It was a pretty special sight to see indeed.
We wish Mr. Robertson a happy belated birthday and thank him for all he has done for our country, our community and WKU in his life.