Joliet man always found time to help
By Denise Baran-Unland Correspondent April 14, 2013 2:34PM
Updated: May 16, 2013 6:12AM
When he was a young man serving on the USS Constellation in the Navy, Daniel Robinson of Joliet was in terrific physical condition.
As decades passed, excess weight crept up on him. Robinson decided to have gastric bypass surgery when, several years ago, he was asked to be a pallbearer at his stepmother’s funeral and he couldn’t find clothes to fit him.
As Robinson shed the pounds, his confidence and generous spirit bloomed. The singing voice he felt too shy to develop finally found expression in karaoke contests, participation in choir at Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Joliet and singing the national anthem at Miracle League of Joliet games at Silver Cross Field, where Robinsonn also volunteered.
Sharon Ferro, executive director, said at Miracle Leagues of Joliet — which offers special-needs children the opportunity to play baseball with their peers — Robinson was paired with a buddy two seasons a year over four years. This meant whether the buddy was up to bat or in the outfield, Robinson was helping right beside him.
“We will miss him this season,” Ferro said.
Robinson’s girlfriend, Gini Kokosz of Joliet, said he regularly helped out at Judson Memorial Baptist Church’s food pantry; occasionally, she joined him. Kokosz also said the two volunteered at last summer’s Haiti Garage Sale, where $11,500 was raised to benefit Haiti orphans through the Don Shire Ministries.
“I’d even do karaoke with him if it was not too crowded,” Kokosz said. “We’d sing ‘Eight Days a Week’ by the Beatles.”
Robinson also enjoyed NASCAR and stock car racing and often lent his hand wherever it was needed to his friends that participated in both sports. Whenever he volunteered, he did it quietly and without drawing attention to himself.
“He was such a good person,” said Debbie Sanborn of Joliet, Robinson’s sister, who proudly saved all his post cards from his Navy days. “He’d help anybody when anyone needed it.”
Robinson’s voice impressed his father, Larry Robinson of Joliet. As a musician, Larry Robinson used to host jam sessions at his house but Daniel was always too shy to join in.
“I think he wanted to compete with me on some level,” the elder Robinson said. “I was definitely proud of him doing karaoke. He had a nice voice.”
Daniel Robinson, 48, died suddenly Dec. 21 from an aortic aneurism during a karaoke night. At his wake, visitors shared stories about Robinson’s service to others. Perhaps it’s no coincidence his favorite karaoke song was Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”
“We had no idea how many lives he touched,” Larry Robinson said.
Contact Denise M. Baran-Unland at 815-467-5249 or email@example.com.