Robison blazed trail at Altoona

John William “Bill” Robison, also known by his friends as Billy, Willy, Rob or Robby, died Feb. 26.

Robison and I graduated from Altoona Area High School in 1971 and were members of the Mountain Lion football team. During our junior year, I had the pleasure of watching from the sidelines one of Altoona’s great football classes featuring Robison at running back.

Our team was undefeated in the regular season, winning the WPIAL All-West Conference title before losing to Gateway by the score of 22-15 in a bitter cold championship game played at the old Pitt Stadium.

In a game at Chambersburg during that same year, Robison had two touchdown runs, including one from 70 yards, leading us to a 14-7 win.

Robison had his jersey torn and came to me in exchange for mine. Quickly handing it over, I became a momentary star.

Fans listening at home by radio thought it was me running the ball, while my name was also blaring over the PA system before the mistake was soon realized. I could only dream of such quickness, speed and graceful agility.

Robison excelled athletically in other sports as well. On the baseball mound, he threw with great velocity coupled with a good curveball. He and Larry Benton, a childhood friend of Robison’s and a Fourth Ward teammate, made up one of the top-notch pitching duos in the Kelley Federation.

In golf, Robison used a 3-wood on hole number 14 at King Valley Golf Course, taking a risky shortcut over the cattail marsh and reaching the green of the par-4 in one sweeping stroke. That’s a poke.

I saw Robison this past December and was both surprised and saddened by his physical condition. Approaching him, I broke the ice with a little levity saying, “Billy, I think I can take you in a footrace now.”

In his competitive mind, he quickly responded: “No you couldn’t.”

I had to smile, believing for a moment that he may be right.

Benton said of Robison growing up, “I don’t remember anyone catching him.”

Billy was, indeed, the kid.

John William Robison is inarguably one of Altoona’s all-time great athletes. Run in peace, my friend.

To you, I remove the helmet and take a knee.

Galen Bickel


Game Commission should think again

I have been a licensed hunter in Pennsylvania for 70 years, a PA Deputy Game Protector for 11 years and a hunter-trapper instructor for 55 years.

For the most part, I have agreed with the biological decisions made by the Pennsylvania Game Commission. I, however, must agree with Rob Storch of Troy, whose Jan. 28 letter said the PGC has “gutted” our “deer season traditions.”

In example, two brothers who now live in Maryland drive to Altoona every year to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family. After eating, the brothers and their dad drive to their camp in Alexandria,where they would spend Friday, Saturday and Sunday, getting ready for Monday’s opening day of deer season.

They would cut firewood, shoot in rifles, check tree stands for safety and clear shooting lanes. They enjoyed spending quality time with each other at camp.

This year, because of the Saturday opener, they didn’t even buy their “out of state” license and a long-time tradition went down the drain.

I talked with members from other camps who were also against this Saturday opener. The restaurant I frequent told me their business on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday was way down last year.

I am one of many hunters against the Saturday opener, Sunday hunting and any lowering of the antler restrictions.

My thoughts to the Pennsylvania Game Commission: Leave things alone.

Bill Carter



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