Extra Questions with Lee Robertson, ‘Mr. Western’

Clinton Lewis/WKU

M. Blake Harrison

Lee Robertson, known to many as “Mr. Western,” is a 1950 WKU graduate and the first recipient of the “Spirit of Western Award.” Robertson played baseball at WKU from 1948-1950 under Ed Diddle and also coached the WKU golf team for six years. He is now special assistant to the vice president for Institutional Advancement and a member of the WKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni.  

Q. What’s your favorite memory of Coach Diddle?

A. There were many, and some of them made him look like he was dumb, but he wasn’t. Of all the times I was there on that baseball team those three springs … the memories of some of the things he said and did are worth a fortune. I wouldn’t trade them for $10 million if I had to lose the memory. When he and L.T. Smith were in western Kentucky recruiting, Mr. Smith knew a place that made some excellent homemade apple pie. Mr. Smith said, “I want some homemade pie à la mode.” And Mr. Diddle said, “Give me the same thing, and I want some ice cream on mine.” (Diddle) liked the pie so well that he ordered one to bring home, and they asked him if he wanted it cut in six pieces or four. He said, “Cut it in four pieces — there’s no way I can eat six pieces of pie.”

Q. Where did the “Mr. Western” nickname come from?

A. Somebody said, “You’ve been around here forever, love the place and done so many different things that I guess nobody else can claim that any better than you can.” I really appreciate the title, and I consider it an unofficial honor. I think it’s just because I’ve been here and been involved in so many different things for so long.

Q. Why have you stayed at WKU for more than 50 years?

A. It just fit. I never had an unhappy moment here when I was a student. It was always a high time … never thought I’d go to college. To get here and be a part of that and see that I was making some success out of it, it fit. When I came back to work, it was my whole life — our family’s life. I’d rather be doing this than nothing. I believe at my age — I’m 88 years old — if I would’ve sat down somewhere and done nothing, I think I’d be gone. I think working at Western, being around young people, kept me going. I do it because I love to do it. It’s just good for me to be here.

Q. What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

A. People. The people you meet, the students you see. The alumni that are out there, the folks that I work with — just being involved. Going to football games, going to the plays, the concerts, the lectures … it’s all just high life to me. And it’s pretty much my wife and I’s complete social life. We do some things out in town and our church is important to us, but Western has been our social life for all those years. It’s part of me. It can’t keep from being that after that long of time.