Editor's note: This article was updated at 5:50 p.m. Friday, May 29, 2020, to add more information from the county's evening release.

ATLANTIC — The county announced Carteret County Commissioner and former N.C. House member Jonathan Robinson, 68, of Atlantic, died late Thursday.

In a brief Friday morning release, the county said it is "deeply sadden(ed)" by the commissioner's death. The county sent a full release Friday evening.

“He was a respected member of the Board of Commissioners and was passionate about representing the citizens of the Down East communities of Carteret County,” the county release stated. “Commissioner Robinson left an imprint on County Government and the community at-large by working to maintain low taxes, advance education, support tourism, and advocating the interests of commercial fishermen.”

Mr. Robinson, born in Morehead City into a fishing family, had represented Carteret County’s Down East District 6 on the county board since November 1998. Prior to that, he served in the North Carolina House of Representatives from 1995-96.

He is survived by his daughter, Staci Robinson Rinehardt, son, Mathew Robinson, and a grandson.

The news of his death hit many county residents hard Friday morning, including County Board of Education member Kathryn Smith Chadwick, who represents Down East on the school board.

“Jonathan was a friend, cousin, teacher and commercial fishing advocate,” she said in an email to the News-Times. “He loved his family and the Down East communities.”

Ms. Chadwick went on to say, “His death is a huge loss for all of us. He supported our schools and the residents of Carteret County and left a legacy that no one can deny. An entire generation of Down East kids learn(ed) to drive by his side … And were given the gift of a real Core Sound education from a kind man who spent his life working the water and advocating for his people.”

Mr. Robinson was a graduate of East Carteret High School and received a bachelor of science in business administration from Atlantic Christian College. He was an Eagle Scout, heavily involved in commercial fishing and advocated for the preservation of Down East heritage.

Ms. Chadwick said Mr. Robinson had a deep impact on her life.

“I will miss him terribly,” she continued. “He was in many ways my mentor and was a lifelong friend. From seeing him at the fish house as a kid to Republican rallies with my grandparents, Jonathan has always been a part of the fabric of our lives. My deepest condolences to his children and grandson and all of Down East.”

Down East resident and Core Sound Waterfowl Museum and Heritage Center Executive Director Karen Amspacher said in an email Friday Mr. Robinson “gave his life to his family and Down East.”

“For him, they were one and the same,” Ms. Amspacher said. “Sometimes rough and rugged, Jonathan was a true Coresounder and a dedicated leader who sacrificed much for the community he loved and served.”

Mr. Robinson represented not just Down East as a whole, according to Ms. Amspacher.

“His voice for the commercial fishing industry was always based on his own understanding of the people who make up the industry and his unwavering pride in being part of that community,” she said. “He would always say he was unworthy to speak for the fishermen, but proud to speak of them and their commitment to their livelihood. His words, his passion and his love for the industry will be long remembered.”

The N.C. Fisheries Association, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting the state’s seafood industry, also expressed its sorrow over Mr. Robinson’s death. NCFA Government Relations Director Jerry Schill said in an email it was “quite a shock this (Friday) morning to hear of Jonathan’s passing.”

“I’ve known him since I first got involved with the Fisheries Association in 1987,” he continued, “so it's been over 32 years. He was actively fishing then and not involved with the issues as an elected official. He’s always been a fierce advocate for anything involving Down East, but especially with commercial fishing.”

Mr. Schill said when Mr. Robinson was a member of the N.C. House, he was “the go-to guy for his fellow House members on fishing and other coastal issues.”

“Even after he left the legislature, House members would still call him for advice on coastal issues,” Mr. Schill said. “Add to that his years of experience as a Carteret County Commissioner, his passing leaves a void that is going to be hard to fill.”

That service in the General Assembly and to the county was remembered Friday by current House Rep. Pat McElraft, R-Carteret.

“My heart ached this morning when I received the call about Jonathan’s passing,” she said in a statement. “…I’m sure many others will echo my sentiments that commercial fishermen had no greater advocate than Jonathan Robinson. He understood their way of life because he was a fisherman himself and I always thought he took more pride in calling himself a waterman than a State Representative or County Commissioner.

“Never one to brag on his accomplishments, I sit here this morning and wonder if anyone really has a grasp on just how much he accomplished for Carteret County as a whole and in particular, the Down East communities? He was their voice for well over two decades,” she said.

His long service on the county board was also remembered Friday by Commissioner Mark Mansfield.

“He was a true servant to the people of the County,” he told the News-Times. “Jonathan has to be one of the longest tenured Commissioner’s [sic]. He was the leading vote getter many times … Carteret County has lost a great man today.”

U.S. Rep. Dr. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., said in a statement he was “shocked and saddened to receive the news of the passing of Jonathan Robinson.”

“His passion for the people he served came through with every conversation. There was very little small talk. If you spent an hour with Jonathan, 59 minutes were discussions about the needs of people,” Rep. Murphy said in a statement.

Munden Funeral Home and Cremations in Morehead City is handling the arrangements. 

 

 

(Previous report)

ATLANTIC — The county announced Carteret County Commissioner and former N.C. House member Jonathan Robinson, 68, of Atlantic, died late Thursday.

In a brief Friday morning release, the county said it is "deeply sadden(ed)" by the commissioner's death and will issue a full release at a later time.

Mr. Robinson, born in Morehead City in a fishing family, had represented Carteret County’s Down East District 6 on the county board since November 1998. Prior to that, he served in the North Carolina House of Representatives from 1995-96.

He is survived by his daughter, Staci Robinson Rinehardt, son, Matthew Robinson, and a grandson.

The news of his death hit many county residents hard Friday morning, including County Board of Education member Kathryn Smith Chadwick, who represents Down East on the school board.

“Jonathan was a friend, cousin, teacher and commercial fishing advocate,” she said in an email to the News-Times. “He loved his family and the Down East communities.”

Ms. Chadwick went on to say, “His death is a huge loss for all of us. He supported our schools and the residents of Carteret County and left a legacy that no one can deny. An entire generation of Down East kids learn(ed) to drive by his side… And were given the gift of a real Core Sound education from a kind man who spent his life working the water and advocating for his people.”

Mr. Robinson was a graduate of East Carteret High School and received a bachelor of science in business administration from Atlantic Christian College. He was an Eagle Scout, heavily involved in commercial fishing and advocated for the preservation of Down East heritage.

Ms. Chadwick said Mr. Robinson had a deep impact on her life.

“I will miss him terribly,” she continued. “He was in many ways my mentor and was a lifelong friend.  From seeing him at the fish house as a kid to Republican rallies with my grandparents, Jonathan has always been a part of the fabric of our lives. My deepest condolences to his children and grandson and all of Down East.”

Munden Funeral Home and Cremations in Morehead City is handling the arrangements. 

This is a developing report.

 

 

(Previous report)

Reporter's note: The headline of this story was updated at 9:27 a.m. Friday, May 29, 2020 to reflect the correct age. This was a reporting error.

BEAUFORT – The county announced Carteret County Commissioner and former N.C. House member Jonathan Robinson, 68, of Atlantic, died late last night.

In a brief Friday morning release, the county said it is "deeply sadden(ed)" by the commissioner's death and will issue a full release at a later time.

This is a developing report.

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