The Joseph Robbie Page

"Mr. Robbie was born July 7, 1916, in Sisseton, S.D. He attended Northern State Teachers College in Aberdeen and the University of South Dakota Law School. He interrupted his studies to join the Navy and saw combat in the Pacific during World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star. Mr. Robbie, a Democrat, served in the South Dakota Legislature. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor in South Dakota. He later lived in Minnesota and moved from Minneapolis to Miami after the birth of the Dolphins. Three of Mr. Robbie's 11 children work for the Dolphins. J. Michael Robbie is executive vice president-general manager, Timothy J. Robbie is vice president-public affairs and Daniel T. Robbie is director of sales and promotions. Mr. Robbie's widow, Elizabeth, is vice president of the team. (Joe Robbie, Owner of Dolphins Of Pro Football, Is Dead at 73. AP. New York Times, Jan. 9, 1990.)

Robbie was convention president, and member of the Executive Council of the South Dakota Student Federation, founded in 1938. (Student Leaders To Hold Parley. Evening Huronite, Apr. 27, 1939.) Robbie was regional counsel of the Office of Price Stabilization for Minnesota, North and South Dakota and Montana (Grocery Price Test in Fargo Held Success. Austin, Minn., Daily Herald, February 11, 1952), then head of the region. "The 35-year-old OPS chief is a former South Dakota college professor and attorney. From 1947 to 1949, he was deputy states attorney in South Dakota and served as a professor of economics at Dakota Wesleyan university from 1946 to 1949. From 1949 to 1950, he was a member of the South Dakota legislature. During World war II he served 4 years in the navy." (Joseph Robbie, Jr., Will Address Carroll Students. Independent Record, Helena, Montana. May 11, 1952.) He was executive director of the Truman Library Inc. for Minnesota. (Truman Will Speak At Aberdeen In April For Library. AP. Huronite and The Daily Plainsman, Feb. 19, 1956.)

Robbie was arrested for drunk driving near Fort Snelling, with a blood alcohol reading of .159. He was acquitted. (Lawyer Cleared Of Drunk Charge. Winona Daily News, May 28, 1959.) He was arrested again in Minneapolis on June 8, 1960, after a poker party. "The witness, Jerome Ross, Chicago, a manufacturers representative who was host for the party, said guests included Associate Justice Thomas Gallagher of the Minnesota Supreme Court and Judge Thomas Bergin of Minneapolis. He identified, among other guests, David Roe and Walter Cramond, local labor leaders, and Ed Gates, a friend of Bergin's." (Judges Attended Drinking Party With Joe Robbie. Brainerd Daily Dispatch, July 29, 1961.) He was acquitted of charges of drunken driving and driving on the wrong side of the street, but was convicted of running a stop sign. Brainerd Daily Dispatch, Nov. 27, 1961.) Robbie was a 5th District Minnesota delegate to the 1960 Democratic National Convention. (Political

Minnesota Democratic delegation, 1960 / Political Graveyard

Robbie was a spokesman for the tobacco industry in 1963, when the the Senate General Legislation Committee recommended for passage a bill which would ban cigarette advertisements picturing persons smoking. (Cigarette Ad Ban Bill Favored. Albert Lea Evening Tribune, Apr. 11, 1963.) Robbie was Executive Director / Executive Vice President of the Minnesota Candy & Tobacco Distributors Association between 1971 and February 1989. Anti-smoker activities were particularly strong there and in Miami, and Robbie was involved in the "fight" in both states. 1985 memos between Robbie and Roger Mozingo, the Tobacco Institute Vice President for state activities, gave Minnesota Attorney General Hubert H. Humphrey III the pretext for a fishing expedition of tobacco industry documents. (Reply memorandum in support of plaintiff's motions to compel re lobbying activities and defendants' agreements relating to settlement policies, payment of attorneys' fees, indemnification, and contribution. State of Minnesota v. Philip Morris et al., Nov. 8, 1998.)

Minnesota v. Philip Morris et al, 1998 / STIC - Northeastern University (doc)

Robbie's business partners in the group that acquired the American Football League franchise for Miami included TV producer Danny Thomas. Sullivan Barnes of Denver represented Robbie. The price was believed to be around $7.5 million. (Big, Big Gamble On Miami Is Made. El Paso Herald-Post, Aug. 17, 1965.) The LaSalle Bank in Chicago lent Robbie the money to start the Dolphins. (Twelfth man on the team. By Jim Bishop, King Features Syndicate. Columbus Telegram, Jul. 18, 1973.) William [Willard] H. "Bud" Keland, a Wisconsin cattleman and land developer, bought out Danny Thomas's interest. "The remaining 10 per cent of the Dolphin stock is held by John O'Neil of Miami and J. M. and E. R. Haggar of Dallas, Tex." (Danny Thomas Sells Out Interest in Miami Club. Warren, Pa., Times-Mirror And Observer. Sep. 09, 1967.) "Keland, formerly a vice president of S. C. Johnson & Sons, the wax manufacturing firm, and son-in-law of H. F. Johnson, longtime president and chairman of the company, is president of the Wisconsin River Development Corp. The corporation is developing a 4,000 acre, multimillion dollar resortvacation-residential area near Spring Green in southern Wisconsin. Keland also is a member of the Wisconsin Resource Development Advisory Committee. At St. Johns Military Academy at Delafield, Wis., he was a teammate of George Wilson, presently coach of the Dolphins. He also played football at Washington & Lee University." (Keland Buys Major Share Of Miami Team. AP. Sheboygan Press, Feb. 3, 1967.) H. Earl Smalley, Harper Sibley Jr., Wilbur Morrison, Frank Callahan and James W. McLamore bought out Keland. (Five in Miami Dolphin Partners. Oakland Tribune, May 17, 1969.) Smalley was president of Dextra Corp. and a director of Hertz Rent-a-Car; Wilbur Morrison was former senior vice president of Pan American World Airways; and James McLamore was founder of Burger King Corp. (Red Peppers. By Gus Schrader. Cedar Rapids Gazette, Jun. 1, 1969.)

"Invitations were mailed this week to Humphrey friends and supporters in five Southeastern states by a committee headed by four prominent Floridians, including Joseph Robbie, a former Minneapolis attorney who owns the Dolphins. The invitations include a letter from Rep. Claude Pepper, D-Fla., appealing for help 'to lessen (Humphrey's) burden' and explaining that Robbie 'has made it possible' to make the football game part of the fund-raising effort. Other sponsors of the event include all 11 Democratic House members from Florida and Sen. Lawton Chiles, D-Fla.; Miami banker Arthur Courshon, and Louis Wolfson, a Miami financier who figured in the 1969 resignation of Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas when it was disclosed that Fortas accepted a $20,000 legal fee from Wolfson's family foundation." (Humphrey bids to offset '72 debt. Long Beach Independent, Dec. 6, 1973.) Robbie also contributed to the campaign of Birch Bayh of Indiana. (Bayh-Lugar Race Getting Hot. By Samuel C. Orr. Pharos-Tribune & Press, Logansport, Ind., Jul. 21, 1974.)

"Robbie did the impossible. He was a local attorney with very little financial means some 24 years ago when he contacted AFL commissioner Joe Foss, a former classmate at the University of South Dakota, about a client's interest in a franchise for Philadelphia. Foss rejected Philadelphia but suggested Miami, where there was no pro sports competition. When Robbie's client rejected Miami, Joe not only raised $7.5 million to buy the franchise himself but overcame a pro football embargo imposed by the Orange Bowl Committee and the University of Miami. He also lobbied AFL owners, convincing them that Miami was a better city than Atlanta and that he had the necessary financial backing. Robbie went through some trying times - when he couldn't pay his bills, when a big crowd at a Dolphins game would be 15,000 to 20,000. Robbie's partners - entertainer Danny Thomas and others - tried to replace him as team president. One partner tried to move the team to Seattle. But Robbie always found new partners and new financial sources.

"Thanks to help from a Chicago banker who was a close friend of Hubert Humphrey, Robbie got the financing he needed and today his family not only owns 100 percent of the Dolphins, a club worth $80 million or more, but also a new stadium that recently cost $100 million.... Whenever the Dolphins played in Minnesota, you counted on Joe to entertain 500 or more at a barbecue. He knew everybody there by first name. And when you went to a Robbie party, you met every politician and character in town." (Hartman: Memories of Robbie and Nagurski. By Sid Hartman, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Jan. 9, 1990. Link died

Robbie donated $800,000 to the University of Notre Dame. (Notre Dame Gift. Winona Daily News, Jul. 18, 1977.) "The Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Chair in Government and International Studies, established in 1976, is the gift of Joseph Robbie in memory of his son, Dr. David L. Robbie, a 1966 cum laude graduate of the University [of Notre Dame] who died in 1976. A native of South Dakota, Mr. Robbie practiced law early in his career in his home state before moving to Minneapolis in 1953, where he became active in urban government planning. In 1965, he founded the Miami Dolphins franchise of the National Football League and engaged in numerous Dade County, Florida, civic, charitable and political activities. He also served on the Advisory Council for the University's College of Arts and Letters. Joseph Robbie died in 1990, and his wife Elizabeth died in 1991." (The Robbie Chair. Donald P. Kommers - Joseph and Elizabeth Robbie Professor of Government and International Studies and Concurrent Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame.) Kommers has been a Max Planck Society Fellow, and has received major grants and senior fellowships from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the German Marshall Fund of the United States; and was an advisor to President Carter.

Kommers / University of Notre Dame

Robbie was a Trustee of Ernst L. Wynder's American Health Foundation between August 1976 and April 1981.

Jan. 7, 1990, Joe Robbie died of respiratory failure at age 73. On Jan. 12, "Tim Robbie becomes President of the Dolphins, Dan and Janet Robbie are named executive Vice Presidents of the team, while Eddie Jones is named Executive Vice President and General Manager of the club. In addition, J. Michael Robbie is named Executive Vice President of Robbie Stadium Corporation." (Miami Dolphins History)

History / Miami Dolphins

Janet L. Robbie, Former Executive Vice President, Miami Dolphins and Joe Robbie Stadium, is a member of the Advisory Board of the Drug Policy Research Center of the RAND Corporation.

Advisory Board / RAND Corporation

Hubert Humphrey was born in South Dakota and was a political mentor of Robbie and South Dakota politician George McGovern. (Interest Stirred
For S.D. Aberdeen American News. Daily Plainsman, Huron, S.D., Sep. 4, 1964.) The Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota was created by his sister, Frances Humphrey Howard, who was a friend of Mary Lasker: "Howard was enthusiastic about the creation of the Humphrey Institute as a living memorial to her brother's interests and ideals. Howard continued to play an active role in the life of the Institute as a donor, an honorary member of the Institute's advisory council, and a prized speaker." (The Institute loses a friend and ally. Humphrey Institute News 2002 October.) Also in this issue, fellowship recipients were invited to join major fellowship contributors "for a convivial morning of conversation." These big donors included "Deborah Olson, daughter of Joseph Robbie."

Humphrey Institute News, 2002 / University of Minnesota (pdf)

Deborah Olson was Treasurer of the Hubert Humphrey for Governor Committee in 1998. (State of Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board)

Humphrey for Governor Committee / Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board

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cast 11-25-09