M. Richard "Dick" Robinson, Jr., chairman and CEO of Scholastic Corp., died unexpectedly on June 5. He was 84, and the company said he had been "in excellent health and had been overseeing Scholastic's long-term strategic direction and day-to-day operations for the better part of five decades."
Scholastic's board issued the following statement: "We are deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Dick Robinson. Dick was a true visionary in the world of children's books and an unrelenting advocate for children's literacy and education with a remarkable passion his entire life. The company's directors and employees, as well as the many educators, parents and students whose lives he touched, mourn his loss."
Scholastic's Class A shareholders and board of directors will meet independently to determine "the best course for the company’s direction, including the appointment of an interim operating head," Scholastic said.
Robinson was named president of Scholastic in 1974, CEO in 1975, and chairman of the board in 1982. Under his leadership, the company said, Scholastic became the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books, a leading provider of print and digital instructional materials for pre-K to grade 12, and a producer of educational and entertaining children's media. It may be best known to the public for its school book fairs and book clubs. The company was founded in 1920 by Robinson's father, Maurice R. Robinson, with the publication of a magazine for distribution in schools.
Publishing highlights during his tenure include the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, Captain Underpants, the Hunger Games, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Goosebumps, I SPY and the Magic School Bus.
Scholastic has annual revenue of about $1.5 billion and more than 9,000 employees worldwide. Robinson spearheaded the expansion of Scholastic into Canada, the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and throughout Asia. Scholastic also exports to more than 150 countries in 65 languages.
Robinson received many honors during his life, including the 2017 Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the Literary Community from the National Book Foundation, and was chairman of the Association of American Publishers from 1996 to 1998. Robinson began his career as a high school English teacher in Evanston, Ill.
Longtime bookseller Betty Bennett died on June 2 after a brief illness. She was 74.
With her husband, John, who survives her, she owned Bennett Books in Wyckoff, N.J., from 1988 to 2007, which at the time was the state's largest independent bookstore. She then founded Fieldstone Book Company, a mobile bookstore that specialized in supplying and selling books at events outside bookstores as well as providing books for teachers and educators. She was a former board member of the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association.
Her family remembered: "She was passionate about seeing the world, and her favorite trips included vacations in Australia, Ireland, Italy, Canada, and France. She also traveled widely within the country and visited 45 of the 50 states. She took pictures of flowers everywhere she went and had an eye for capturing beauty with a camera lens. Her love for photography was only matched by her reluctance to be in front of the camera. Her children cajoled her into being the subject of at least a few snapshots so we could remember her joyful smile and wry humor.
"Betty was a nurturing mother and was always eager to visit her grandchildren as much as possible. She was devoted to her hometown of Wyckoff, N.J., and was a frequent visitor to the wildlife center. She also loved taking her grandchildren to the local playground, petting zoo, and firehouse. Her lifelong devotion to spirituality was unwavering and she was an active member of her church community....
"In lieu of flowers, donations in the name of our passionate reader can be made to the Wyckoff Public Library."