Hank Robinson, who with his late brother Jack built Argonaut Wine & Liquor into a thriving enterprise on East Colfax, passed away January 31, 2018, in Denver. He was 96. Rabbi Steven Foster officiated at the Feb. 4 service at Temple Emanuel. A private burial was held Feb. 5. Feldman Mortuary made the arrangements.
Family and friends recalled Mr. Robinson as a creative business force who formed alliances with neighbors and community leaders to better the prospects of Colfax Ave.
He also was an aficionado of Western history and sought to preserve Denver’s frontier past.
Mr. Robinson was born Aug. 22, 1921, on Denver’s West Side to Lazar and Lena Robinson.
After a year at CU, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the US Merchant Marine in the Pacific theatre during WW II. He then returned to his father’s insurance business.
In 1965, Mr. Robinson and his father bought a corner liquor store from a client and set to work building up its potential. Brother Jack later joined the business.
At the time, East Colfax Avenue just east of downtown was changing from a highway retail strip into a rundown area of motels and cabarets.
His efforts to improve the community succeeded. Over the following decades, Argonaut grew into a 40,000-sq. ft presence at Colfax and Washington Streets, transforming the block into an upscale retail center.
In 1986, Market Watch awarded Hank and Jack Robinson with the Leaders Alumni Award for service to the community. In 2016, the trade publication repeated the honor for Mr. Robinson and his son-in-law Ron Vaughn, now CEO.
Mr. Robinson loved Denver’s Western heritage. Recalling how his grandfather sold merchandise from the back of a horse, he learned to ride and later cut cattle on the amateur rodeo circuit.
He later acquired a substantial collection of Western art and memorabilia, including one of the largest collections of Native American kachina dolls in private holding.
Mr. Robinson also was a car collector and active in Denver’s antique car clubs.
“My father was a consummate people pleaser,” said his daughter Patti Jo Robinson. “He was successful in development and charity work in part because he loved people and talking to them.”
In 2016, Mr. Robinson was chosen for an Honor Flight to view the new National WW II Memorial on the Washington Mall in recognition of his military service in the Pacific.
He fought to combat substance abuse through Arapahoe House, a treatment facility, and supported Jewish community institutions and major health and children’s welfare charities.
He died following an extended illness.
Mr. Robinson is survived by his wife Bobette Robinson; children Karen Robinson (Ron Vaughn), Lynn Robinson (Larry Bass) and Patti Joe Robinson (Brad Levin); sister-in-law Suzanne Robinson; grandchildren Alex, Robyn and Richard Levin, Jessica Bass (Kevin McKinney), Zachary Bass, Rachel and Rebecca Vaughn; and great-grandchildren Henry and Cora McKinney.
Contributions may be made to Shalom Park at www.shalompark.org.
Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News