About a month after his 83rd birthday Raphael Robinson was almost wholly incapacitated by a massive stroke, and 8 weeks later, on January 27, 1995, he died of ensuing complications. Mathematics was his life. He was always working on problems—those brought to him in journals or by colleagues, and others that he invented. Just three days before his death he received word that a paper of his, originating in a published problem, was accepted for publication. His 64 publications spanned a full 6 decades, and included significant papers on number theory, combinatorics, complex analysis, and geometry, in addition to logic and set theory.
Robinson was born on November 2, 1911, in National City, California. He came to Berkeley to study mathematics, obtaining an A.B. in 1932, an M.A. in 1933, and his Ph.D. in December, 1934. His dissertation was in complex analysis. He took 12 graduate courses in a variety of fields, but not one was close to logic or set theory—which was later the setting of about a quarter of his publications.
After completing his studies Robinson served as Instructor for two years at Brown University, then returned for good to Berkeley in 1937, reaching the rank of full Professor in 1949. He taught a great variety of courses and was known as an excellent teacher, but was most interested in problemsolving and research and in 1972, at age 61, he elected early retirement, at considerable financial sacrifice, in order to concentrate on these pursuits.