MALDEN — The late Jerry Robbins was equipped with a sharp wit, always keeping friends and loved ones “on their toes.”
Like so many others, he worked behind the scenes following the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, personally taking charge of a program to provide free, unlimited transportation access to bombing victims and their families through his successful livery service.
“(Robbins) was there for everyone who needed his help, all the time. He never could, or would, say no,” recalled Joe Levine, the Malden Recreation Dept. chief and a classmate of Robbins at Malden High School in the Class of 1973.
The city of Malden has acknowledged Robbins’ legacy by naming the baseball diamond at Arthur S. Kierstead Park in his honor. The Jerry Robbins Memorial Field located on Eastern Avenue is just a block away from the former Robbins family business site.
Former classmates Levine and Paul Murphy, Rob Santo and Malden City Councilor at Large David D’Arcangelo spearheaded the naming campaign.
Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, D’Arcangelo, Levine, the city’s Public Works (DPW) director Bob Knox and more than two dozen friends and family members were on hand last Friday for the late afternoon dedication, where a monument stone and plaque were unveiled.
“Jerry just did so much for so many people,” D’Arcangelo said when he first proposed the honor recently. “It is a fitting tribute.”
Robbins died of a heart attack last November at the age of 60. He left his wife, Janet Brown-Robbins, brother, Arthur, and sister-in-law, Linda.
Robbins’ father, and then Jerry and his brothers operated the Robbins Tire and Auto center at the corner of Maplewood Street and Eastern Avenue (Route 60) into the early 1980s. Robbins himself was a standout baseball pitcher in the early 1970s at Malden High who went on to pursue a collegiate career at the University of Miami, before arm trouble sidelined him.
A member of the New England Livery Association (NELA), Robbins launched Newton-based Weldon Worldwide, a major livery service provider, in February 2000. He was chairman of the Weldon Group Inc., a mergers and acquisitions company, from 1984 to 1998.
Robbins served as the first president of the Malden High School booster club, the Golden Tornado Club, when it was reconstituted in 1983. He was honored numerous times both locally and regionally for his humanitarian efforts, including induction into the Golden Tornado Hall of Fame for his distinguished service.
In 2013, he was the first recipient of the Limousine Charter and Tour Association (LCT) People’s Choice Carla Boroday Humanitarian Award. The honor recognized his extensive involvement for many years with the Boston-based Ellie Fund providing support services for patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer, including providing free transportation and fundraising.
“I just feel it’s the right thing to do,” Robbins said in 2013 following the Boston Marathon attack when his company provided many free ride trips to the survivors and their families. “There are so many people that need transportation, that are going to have to go to hospitals daily. There’s one mother who’s got two sons with legs amputated at two different hospitals. There are just so many scenarios. I just think any company who does business in such a great community as Boston needs to step up and do the right thing.”
Robbins was an avid Boston Celtics fan and was for years. He was involved with the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation’s community initiative, “Heroes Among Us,” where at each Celtics home game an individual is honored for his or her contributions to the community. Robbins received the honor in 2015. He was also on the board of directors for the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA).