ATLANTA, Ga. - In Atlanta, J. Mack Robinson was synonymous with business — so much so that Georgia State University’s business school fittingly carries his name.
A classic up-by-his-bootstraps entrepreneur, he was equally at ease in the ritzy fashion house of French designer Yves Saint Laurent, whom he bankrolled, as he was in the Georgia saw mills or small-town banks he financed.
The lifelong Atlantan, shy tycoon, powerful philanthropist and political bankroller, born Jesse Mack Robinson, died Friday. He was 90.
In more than 50 years in business, Robinson made his mark in the insurance, fashion, media and banking industries.
Georgia State named its business school for Robinson in 1998, the same year he gave a $10 million gift to the institution. His connection to the school dates back to 1941, when Robinson attended the Georgia Evening College, which is now GSU. The bombing of Pear Harbor forced him away from his studies and into the military, he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in a 1998 interview.
Robinson has donated millions to various organizations and schools, including Westminster Schools, which has a science building that bears his name.
Much of Robinson’s philanthropy has been done privately and outside of the public eye, which was his preference. He rarely gave interviews, but his connections and influence in the business community were undeniable.
“Mack Robinson is a classic American success story,” Ed Sims, an Atlanta lawyer who once chaired the state Democratic Party, said in a 2008 interview. “His business success, and everything he’s been involved with, is legendary. He is also one of the nicest human beings I have ever met.”
Funeral arrangements, which will be handled by H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill Chapel, are pending.
Courtesy of Michelle Shaw, Atlanta Journal-Constitution