Students, teachers and staff at Saluda Trail Middle School are coping with the sudden loss of a teacher who worked at the school since it opened.
Eric Robinson, an industrial technology teacher, died unexpectedly Thursday night. He was 46.
"It's just an incredible loss to us," said Pam Johnson, the chorus teacher who worked down the hall from Robinson. "It's more than anything I can really put into words."
Robinson got a severe headache, became dizzy and lost consciousness Saturday while recovering from the flu and bronchitis. He died Thursday, Principal Brenda Campbell said.
His wife, Ernestine Robinson, said he had massive brain stem damage. It's unclear what caused his death.
Robinson's co-workers remembered him as a friend and role model for his peers and for students.
"It's hard to imagine anyone not looking up to him," said Clayton Moton, an eighth-grade assistant principal who coached football with Robinson.
"He mentored to anyone. ... The kids knew that he was a pillar of this facility. They saw him as a leader. They saw him as an example. He modeled everything that he spoke about."
Extra counselors were at the school Friday to meet with students.
Campbell said she could always count on Robinson to help out wherever help was needed. He coached Saluda Trail's robotics team, was an assistant eighth-grade football coach and was involved with a mentoring program for male students.
Johnson said Robinson looked out for the other teachers on the hall in a protective way. He was one of only two male teachers on that hall.
"He was definitely a Southern gentleman," she said.
Family was important to Robinson, who had two children, Erica, 17, and Eric, 14.
Ernestine Robinson said her husband planned family outings to the beach or the mountains for no special reason. He would race home from work to make it to his son's basketball games on time.
Robinson would do things for other people without having to be asked, she said.
"He didn't really sit down and give a lot of attention to himself," Ernestine Robinson said. "It was always other people, not just the family. That's what was so special about him. That's what will be so missed."
The Robinsons were high school sweethearts who attended each others' proms and winter balls. Their 20th wedding anniversary would have been in November.
"I told him when he was in his bed and I told him this before -- I said, 'You know what, God gave me my soul mate,'" Ernestine Robinson said. "'You will be my only soul mate,' I told him. 'I'm a Robinson. That's what I will be till I die.' There's no other person that could take his place. That's how precious he was."
Funeral arrangements had not been finalized Friday afternoon. Cards and flowers can be sent to Gibson & Brown funeral home at 117 Ravenscroft St., Union, SC 29379. Donations to the Eric Robinson Memorial Fund, benefiting his children, can be made at Saluda Trail.
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