Spending a couple of hours in the delightful company of Dick and Bonnie Robbins is like traveling back in time to a much-different Seattle, though one as full of promise and creativity as today’s energetic metropolis.
Although Dick and Bonnie were both born in California (coincidentally at the same hospital), Seattle is where they met and spent their adult lives together.
Dick spent many of his childhood summers traveling to Alaska to work with his father, a mining engineer, at the family-owned gold mining operation. The Alaskan wilderness fueled Dick’s keen interest in engineering and his passion for the outdoors, and helped form the values of self reliance and resilience worthy of an authentic Northwest pioneer.
In 1952, Dick's father, James Robbins, founded the Robbins Company in Seattle to develop and manufacture the world’s first rock tunnel boring machine (TBM). His tragic death in a plane crash a few years later put Dick in a position of responsibility within the new company at a young age. Dick rose to the challenge and led the company to thrive and prosper over the next four decades, years that were marked by the successful completion of many high-profile engineering projects all over the world, including, most notably, the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) between England and France which was inaugurated in 1991.
Bonnie, while busy raising a family, was active in supporting wildlife preservation causes. She founded the Bald Eagle hotline, which she managed from a special “red telephone” in her kitchen, to map eagle nests in the city, She was also involved for many years in the Snow Leopard Trust, an organization which works closely with Himalayan countries in Central Asia.
Dick also found time to give back to the Seattle community by serving on the Virginia Mason Medical Center Board of Directors for two decades and, together with Bonnie, he helped launch The Global Partnership, a micro-credit lending organization founded by Bill and Paula Clapp.
The Robbins’s connection with Cure First and its founder, Carla Grandori, goes back to the 1970s when Dick and Carlo Grandori, Carla's father, collaborated on international engineering projects. Carlo Grandori, who hailed from Milan, Italy, embraced the new tunneling technology developed by the Robbins Company because it made underground working conditions much safer for workers and saved countless lives. The Robbins/Grandori partnership went on to tackle many challenging projects, and the respect and friendship that ensued brought the respective families together as well.
The Robbins have continued their tradition of independent thinking and innovation by downsizing from their Madison Park home and moving into an ultramodern houseboat where they can enjoy the view of the skyline of the city they love while kayaking on Lake Union or monitoring the progress of the Canada goose nest on their bedroom deck.
Bonnie and Dick are generous supporters of Cure First because they recognize the potential in its vision to apply innovative technology to non-toxic cures for cancer.
Cure First is profoundly grateful for their unwavering support and their friendship.