Tom Robinson, longtime Denver teacher and sports administrator, passes away at 76

DENVER — Tom Robinson, a beloved educator, sports official and co-founder of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, passed away early in the morning of Monday, April 4. He was 76 years old.

“Tom has been the love of my life for over 60 years. The journey he and I have shared for over 50 years was destined to be,” Robinson’s wife, Cleo Parker Robinson, said in a statement. “We were devoted to one another in all things, to our family, our dreams, and our community.  We always knew the other was close at hand in absolute love. I will carry his light in my heart forever.” 

“We join the Denver and Colorado high school sports communities today in mourning the loss of Tom Robinson,” said Governor Jared Polis and Lt. Governor Dianne Primavera in a joint statement. “Tom was not only the first Black administrator in the history of the Colorado High School Activities Association, but he was also an exceptionally talented athlete, teacher, coach, husband, father and grandfather. Through his own skill and dedicated mentorship, Tom inspired and supported generations of Colorado students and athletes. We will remember Tom as a wonderful leader and friend, and send our thoughts to his loved ones, especially his wife, Cleo Parker Robinson, and son, Malik Robinson.”

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said Robinson “was not only husband to the incomparable Cleo Parker Robinson, but an asset to the community in his own right.”

Robinson was married to Cleo Parker Robinson for 51 years. In 1964, Tom and Cleo were king and queen of the prom at Regis Jesuit High School, where Tom was an all-state football player. The couple married six years later.

Tom and Cleo at their 50th wedding anniversary celebration, May 31, 2020. (Photo: Lawrence Alexander)

Robinson was a three-sport athlete at Colorado State University, competing in football, basketball, and track and field. After graduating, he started a teaching career at his former high school. At Regis, he taught various math classes for 31 years and also served as coach for the football, basketball, track and golf teams over the years.

After three decades at Regis, Robinson became the first Black administrator of the Colorado High School Activities Association (CHSAA), the governing body for Colorado’s high school sports. In December, Robinson announced that he would retire from CHSAA at the end of the 2022 school year.

“Beyond the impact Tom has made in this Association, our state and nationally over the course of his 30-plus year career as a coach, teacher, administrator, white hat referee, Hall of Famer, Big 12 replay expert, husband, father and grandfather, we are all better people for having had Tom in our lives,” CHSAA commissioner Rhonda Blanford-Green said in a statement after Robinson passed away.

Tom Robinson (Photo: Brad Cochi/

In addition to his career as an educator and CHSAA administrator, Robinson was a co-founder and served on the Board of Directors of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD). According to his obituary, Robinson was CPRD’s business manager for many years and helped secure the nonprofit dance company’s home at the former location of the historic Shorter AME Building.

“Every concert, every tour, his steadying hand and calm presence were always evident. For 51 years, artists, staff, technicians, and audiences always knew they’d see Tom in the theatre whenever his own extensive schedule allowed,” his obituary reads.

Robinson’s son,  Malik Robinson, now serves as the executive director of CPRD. In lieu of flowers, the Robinson family asks that donations be made to Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. Condolences can be sent to Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, 119 Park Avenue West, Denver, CO, 80205 or to

Kyle Cooke is the digital media manager at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach him at