By SHERIDAN ROY
Curtis Robinson, a prominent business owner, leading philanthropist, and one of the most successful businessmen in Connecticut, has been selected to receive the 2018 Gold Medal of Honor from the Southington chapter of Unico—the organizations highest honor awarded annually since 1945.
When Curtis and wife Shiela and their family moved to Southington 20 years ago, they began giving back immediately.
“God has been so good to us. I give because it’s the right thing to do,” said Robinson. “When I die, God is going to ask me, ‘What did you do with the gifts I gave you?’ So we give to those who have the least. We are one race—the human race—and we’re all brothers and sisters.”
Robinson grew up poor in Birmingham, Ala. He learned to give back through watching his mother do the same.
“We were raised poor. We had no running water, had newspapers for wallpaper, we had a well outback… but my mother always found a way to cook dinner for someone who had none,” he said. “It always resonated with me.”
In 1958, Robinson set off on a bus to Boston, but he got off at the wrong stop and ended up settling in Hartford. He slept on a bench the first night, and the next day got a job washing dishes at the former Shoreham Hotel, where he stayed.
During that time he worked two full-time jobs and one part-time job for three years until he was able to purchase a grocery store at the corner of Capen and Vine Streets at the age of 18. Fifteen years later, at age 22, Robinson owned the very hotel he once washed dishes in.
His professional life continued to grow over the years. He is currently the owner and operator of the largest minority construction management company in the east, C&R Development Company. He also owns eight shops at the Bradley International Airport and is the property manager of the air exchange building.
Other current businesses include R&G Services, LLC, which operates the shuttle bus service at Bradley Airport, and R&G Parking International, LLC, a partnership between RCPI and Laz Parking.
Curtis and Shiela also operate the Curtis and Shiela Robinson Foundation, feeding and serving tens of thousands of inner city and suburban families for nearly 30 years. They also financially support efforts to combat abuse against women, HIV-AIDS, and poverty; the Doc Hurley Scholarship Fund; the Sickle Cell Anemia Association; Southington Community Services; Southington Police; United Way of Southington; Bread for Life, and many more.
“A lot of times, people think Southington residents are well-off and financially stable, but there are many here who do need help,” said Robinson.
In Southington, he and Shiela have been involved in countless donations including providing: body cameras to the police department, specialized breathing apparatus for the fire department, smoke detectors for Southington homes, summer lunch programs at Wheeler Village, turkeys and groceries for SCS, restoration for the chapel at Southington Care Center, and more.
“As soon as the committee read Mr. Robinson’s resume, we knew we wanted to honor his dedication and charity,” said co-chairman of Unico’s selection committee Bill DellaVecchia. “The Gold Medal is a testament to his ingenuity, generosity and love for the community.”
DellaVecchia said Robinson’s impact, both here in Southington and across the world, “is nothing short of remarkable,” exemplifying Unico’s motto, “service above self.”
Robinson will receive the Unico award at a dinner ceremony in his honor on May 15 at the Aqua Turf Club. Tickets to the Gold Medal dinner can be purchased from Unico members or at the office of Fasulo and Albini, CPAs in Plantsville.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.