John C. Robinette Memorial Fund
On May 26th, at the age of 76, John Clarence Robinette unexpectedly left us for the big tractor show in the sky. Born in 1946 in Oak Park, IL he was affectionately known as Big John by those who knew him well. He was a hard worker, devoted husband to Lynda, father to John II and Jason, and successful co-owner of Robinette Demolition for 47 years.
As a child he enjoyed visiting relative’s farms as well as working on the family trout farm with his brother Tom and sisters Clyda and Robin.
John was a Vietnam War Army veteran and a purple heart recipient. He served one tour with a heavy artillery division. He once said, “I entered the service a child and I came out a man.” Indeed, beyond his experiences, he was six inches taller and sixty pounds heavier upon discharge. Beyond that, he had gained skills with heavy machinery that would carry him into the next chapter of his life as co-owner of Robinette Demolition.
He founded his family business with his brother, Tom, and employed his eldest son as a heavy equipment operator and foreman along with nieces and nephews. Many Chicagoans will remember seeing large excavators with the Robinette name spelled out along the boom and large blue dump trucks at notable demolition sites including the House of Blues, the Fannie May factory, and the Robert Taylor Homes to name a few. To his employees he was known to be firm but fair.
In 1973 John met Lynda at a mutual friend’s wedding and they married two years later. She supported him while he grew his company and together, they had two sons and raised them in Lombard and later Oak Brook. They were, and continue to be, a tight-knit family. They enjoyed family vacations, many of them to the Caribbean. He was devoted to Lynda until his last moments. The day of his passing he asked his son to buy her flowers for her upcoming birthday. When asked what to buy he replied, “Blow it out of the water!” This was his way.
In his leisure time, he loved to restore tractors and collected all manner of large equipment. He enjoyed hunting at his family farm in southern Illinois and never missed a chance to smoke a big cigar.
Despite his gruff appearance, Big John was a kind and welcoming figure in the lives of his son’s friends. He proudly supported his sons in their diverse passions and instilled in them a strong work ethic and devotion to family that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
It is with deep sadness that we say goodbye to this larger-than-life figure. He left his mark on the city of Chicago and on the hearts of so, so many. He was a big man with a big heart and his loss leaves a large hole in the lives of his many friends and family.
He is survived by his wife Lynda (Witt) and their two sons John II and Jason (Natasha Gornik) Robinette; his brother Tom (Cheryl) Robinette, and his sister Clyda Robinette.
He is preceded in death by his parents Clayburn and Rose Robinette and his sister Robin Robinette-Di Iorio.
Rest in Power, Big John.
In lieu of flowers please consider making a donation to Young Hearts For Life (YH4L.org). Big John credits Dr. Marek, founder, and medical director of YH4L, with saving his life and keeping him alive all these years. YH4L provides ECGs, education, medical action plans, and community for families who have lost a child or sibling. They also support the placement of Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in schools and public buildings.