ROBINSON JUDSON WILBUR, SR.
ROBINSON JUDSON WILBUR, SR. (1904–1986) Judson Wilbur Robinson, Sr., businessman, realtor, and civic leader, was born on February 7, 1904, in Crockett, Texas. He was the son of a Baptist minister. He attended college at Prairie View State Normal and Industrial College (now Prairie View A&M University) and graduated in 1926, and he moved to Houston in 1928. He married Josie and they had three children—Judson, Jr.; Josie; and James.
One of Robinson’s first jobs was as a waiter on the Southern Pacific Railroad. In 1934 he organized and was president of the Sleeping Car Porters and Waiters Union. Robinson held many leadership positions such as president of the Houston Citizens Chamber of Commerce, director of the 1953 membership drive of the Houston Negro Chamber of Commerce, head of the Houston Business and Professional Men’s Club, and first African-American member to serve on the local YMCA board. Judson Robinson made an impact within Houston’s public housing. In 1943 he became the first African American to manage Kelly Homes, a public housing project later known as Kelly Village, located in Houston’s Fifth Ward, and in 1946 he was promoted to manage the Cuney Homes project located in Houston’s Third Ward. In 1969 he was appointed to the Houston Housing Authority board; he was the first African-American board member, and he later served as vice chairman of the board.
Outside of government Robinson was a businessman. He established his real estate business, Judson W. Robinson & Sons Real Estate and Mortgage Company in 1962. This was the first African-American mortgage company in the state that was approved by the Federal Housing Administration. He also established the National Real Estate Association, a mostly black organization, in 1950. In his community of Pleasantville, which is one of Houston’s oldest black subdivisions, he served as chairman of Precinct 259 and boosted voter participation to the largest turnout within the city. He was a member of the board of directors of Riverside General Hospital, formerly known as the Houston’s Negro Hospital, from 1965 to 1975. He was also a director of Trinity East United Methodist Church. Robinson was a founding member of the Houston Area Urban League, a nonprofit agency which is affiliated with the United Way and the National Urban League that opened in 1968. Judson Robinson retired from his company in 1978, and his son Judson W. Robinson, Jr., the first African American elected to the Houston city council, became president of the company.
Judson Robinson, Sr., died in Houston on May 11, 1986, at the age of eighty-two. He was survived by his second wife, Martha Frances Davis, whom he married on June 1, 1963. He was buried in Paradise North Cemetery in Houston.
Houston Chronicle, May 13, 1986. Houston Post, May 15–21, 1986.