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 E Claiborne Robins

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E Claiborne Robins

  • Birth 1911
  • Death 6 Jul 1995
  • Burial Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA
  • Memorial ID 87261108

E. Claiborne Robins, a philanthropist who built one of the country's largest pharmaceutical companies, died July 6, 1995 at his home in Richmond. He was 84.

The cause was cancer of the pancreas, said Randy Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the University of Richmond, where Mr. Robins had been a trustee or trustee emeritus since 1951.

Mr. Robins and his wife Lora gave more than $200 million to the university during their lifetimes. A 1969 gift of $50 million is still among the largest gifts to any university.

He was chief executive of the family business, A. H. Robins Inc. from 1936 to 1970. He then continued as chairman of the board, retiring in 1989, when the company was sold to the American Home Products Corporation.

The elder Mr. Robins said he gave about half of his income to charity each year. The year before his death, he gave $2 million to the University of Richmond and $250,000 to Virginia Commonwealth University, also in Richmond.

Mr. Robins's grandfather, Albert Hartley Robins, started an apothecary shop in Richmond in 1866, which became A. H. Robins. His son, Mr. Robins's father, died in 1912. The grandson grew up poor, stacking books in the public library for 25 cents an hour, and commuting to classes at the University of Richmond and the Medical College of Virginia, where he studied pharmacy on a scholarship and graduated in 1933.

The family business got through the depression with the help of a $2,000 bank loan. Later A. H. Robins grew into a multinational manufacturer of widely used products, including Robitussin cough medicine and Chap Stick lip salve.

Mr. Robins and his family also helped build a sports arena and a fine arts building. The university was near financial disaster in 1969, but the $50 million gift and matching donations transformed the small Baptist-controlled institution into one of the nation's most solidly endowed colleges.

Mr. Robins and his family also made gifts to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Richmond Public Library, the Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Union University and Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

In addition to his son, Mr. Robins is survived by his wife, Lora McGlasson Robins, and two daughters, Lora Elizabeth Robins Porter and Ann Carol Robins Marchant.

Family Members






  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Tim Oliver
  • Added: 23 Mar 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 87261108
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for E Claiborne Robins (1911–6 Jul 1995), Find A Grave Memorial no. 87261108, citing Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, Richmond City, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave (contributor 8) .