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Lee Robertson, known as ‘Mr. Western,’ has passed away at 102

Lee Robertson, who died July 3 at 102, earned the title “Mr. Western” due to his lifelong involvement with the university. As a 1950 graduate, Robertson went on to become the superintendent of Barren Country Schools, WKU alumni director, director of WKU-Glasgow campus, and now serves as Special Assistant to VP in the development & alumni relations office. Robertson was 95 in this photo.

Lee Robertson, the man commonly referred to as ‘Mr. Western,’ passed away early Wednesday morning in his home, according to multiple sources. He was 102 years old.

Mr. Western reigned at WKU for almost 80 years, leaving behind a legacy of commitment and passion for WKU and its community.

Lee Robertson having a word with former WKU golfer and current professional golfer Kenny Perry, who plays on the PGA Tour and the Champions Tour. Photo provided by Paul Just/WKU sports historian.

Robertson came to the Hill in 1946 after serving in World War II. In June of that same year, one of Robertson’s friends approached him and suggested attending college together. Luckily for Robertson, the GI Bill passed in 1944 provided education benefits to World War II veterans.

Lee “Mr. Western” Robertson, a McLean County native, was part of WKU for nearly 80 years. He volunteered at the Cliff Todd Center until recently. (Michael Dylan Payne)

While he was a student, Robertson studied physical education and played baseball after being approached by E.A. Diddle with the offer. 

After graduation, Robertson went on to work in different Kentucky school systems, but eventually came back to the Hill and worked a number of positions including as director of alumni affairs and recently as special assistant to the vice president of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement.

In an interview with the Herald in 2010, Robertson said the most rewarding aspect of his job was the people and students he saw.

“Going to football games, going to the plays, the concerts, the lectures … it’s all just high life to me,” he said. “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.

Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame Induction Dinner, Sept. 9, 2004, Louisville. Four of the six WKU Alumni Directors (l-r): Lee Robertson, KAHF Inductee Jimmy Feix, Jim Richards and Donald Smith.

“It’s part of me. It can’t keep from being that after that long of time.”

Robertson turned 102 on Father’s Day, according to a Facebook post by Sally Tisdale last week. Tisdale said his birthday was appropriate given that he was a “father figure” to many hilltoppers over the years.

“There was never a finer ambassador, friend or ‘family’ member as Silver Lee,” Tisdale wrote. “He loved EVERYBODY and he knew and remembered everything about you. He cared.”

Memorial services will follow later this month.

News reporter Cameron Shaw can be reached at [email protected].

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