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In The Pipeline: Remembering an Earth Day hero

April 18, 2012|By Chris Epting

Brian Robertson left Long Beach Airport last Dec. 22 in a 1980 Cessna, fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft.

He took off at 8:05 a.m., and it was supposed to take him six hours and 20 minutes to reach his destination of York Airport in Pennsylvania, where the 38-year-old Huntington Beach businessman was headed to see family.

That evening, witnesses in York, just two miles from the local airport, reported seeing the plane spinning through the air out of control just before it crashed into a corn field, killing Robertson.

You may remember reading about this Christmastime tragedy. Robertson and his wife, Eileen, have three children, ages nine, seven and four. A brilliant man, Robertson had been the chief executive of Amonix, a solar technology company based in Seal Beach. He was also a graduate of MIT and earned a master's degree at Harvard Business School. But when you speak with his widow, you learn so much more than the basic (albeit impressive) facts of his life.

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"He was an unbelievable doer," Eileen told me. "People would ask me, 'Does he ever sleep?' But that was my husband. He rose every day with passion to go out and change the world for the better. And so that is what he did."

To honor the legacy of her husband, Eileen is helping to organize the Brian D. Robertson (BDR) Earth Day Family Fun Run at 11 a.m. Sunday at Bolsa Chica State Beach.

She told me that she and her husband both shared the notion of making the most of every day, and also shared a love of the environment, which is why the event is taking place on Earth Day.

"Brian was CEO of a solar panel manufacturing company, and he traveled the world — from Saudi Arabia to China to Mexico — working on ways to help the earth harness its natural energy," she said.

And so she is applying all of her natural energy in the spirit of her husband, in a way that she said she knows will keep his spirit strong for her, for her three young children, and for anyone who had the good fortune to know her creative and energetic husband.

"And if you didn't know Brian," she added, "I'd like to think an event like this will show you what he was all about."

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