Thank you LaFalco “Corkey” Robinson

LaFalco “Corkey” Robinson, longtime band director in the Austin school system, passed away on June 20, 2021, at the Lantana Lodge at Longhorn Village just outside of Austin, TX. Corkey was born to William Wallace and Geneva Walker Robinson on August 11, 1927 in Cooper, Texas, where he grew up and graduated from Cooper High School, playing saxophone in the high school band. When the school’s high school band director was drafted into the Armed Services, Corkey became director of the dance band, and began his career as a conductor at a very young age.
He entered The University of Texas at Austin in September 1944, where he played briefly in the Longhorn Band before entering the U.S. Navy in 1945. He attended the Navy School of Music, and was later assigned to a Navy dance band in the Pacific theater.
Following his discharge from the service in 1949, Corkey re-entered U. T. Austin in 1950 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953 and a Master’s degree in Music Education in 1956. Later that year, Corkey became the band and orchestra director at O. Henry Junior High School in Austin. Both band and orchestra won numerous First Divisions and Sweepstakes awards under his baton, and he also directed the choir, which earned its first Division I in the University Interscholastic League in 1960.
Corkey transferred to Stephen F. Austin High School in Austin in 1961 where he had a distinguished career as the band, orchestra and stage band director for 27 years until his retirement in 1988. The SFA Stage Band was chosen as the first Austin musical organization to play for the Texas Music Educators Association in 1983, and was also chosen to play for the opening of Symphony Square in Austin in 1978, and in 1984-85, the SFA Orchestra was awarded second place in the state of Texas.
Corkey is a member of Phi Beta Mu, the International Bandmasters’ Fraternity, which is an honorary fraternity for band directors. He is also a founding member and former president of Texas Orchestra Directors Association, and he was also chosen by them as Orchestra Director of the year in 1985. His composition, Spiritual and Hallelujah, won first place in the Texas Orchestra Directors Composition Competition 1994. In addition, he also served as conductor for seven musicals at the Zilker Hillside Theater in Austin.
In 1979, Corkey was voted Teacher of the Year for Austin High School. In May 1996, he was inducted into the Stephen F. Austin High School Faculty Hall of Honor. Dozens of letters by students and colleagues helped the committee to articulate what made this man such a great success and guiding force behind the lives of so very many. According to one former student, “He was not merely a teacher but a fine musician in his own right. He had the rare ability to communicate with young people, and it was this trait, and the knowledge that he deeply cared for each of his students as individuals, that made him so respected.” His example and commitment to excellence led his students to inscribe a plaque dedicating the S.F. Austin High band hall in his honor.
Although he retired in 1988, Corkey continued to write, teach and judge competitions until his move to Longhorn Village by Lake Travis. He was predeceased by his wife of 43 years, Barbara Tramel Robinson, in 2002, and is survived by two children, Kevin “Woody” Robinson of Lakeway, TX, his wife Kay Lee Cox, and his daughter, Beverly Robinson, of Austin. There will be a celebration of his life on Saturday, June 26, 2021 at 3pm at Cook-Walden Funeral Home, 6001 N. Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his name to the charity of your choice.

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