New Jersey Legionnaire Albert Robotti never married – unless you ask his close friend, American Legion Past National Commander John "Jake" Comer.
"His marriage was to The American Legion," said Comer of Robotti, who passed away Aug. 13 after a two-year battle with cancer. "He gave 100 percent of everything he was to The American Legion."
Robotti, a member of John Basilone Post 280 in Somerset County, had served in The American Legion for 58 years. He was New Jersey’s Alternate National Executive Committeeman from 1985 to 1989 and NECman from 1997 to 2001. In between those terms, he was a national vice commander from 1996 to 1997.
"I’d known him for probably 25 years, but I really got to know him best when he came into Massachusetts as national vice commander," Comer said. "And when I was married to (Auxiliary Past National President Elsie Bailey) and lived in New Jersey, I became close to the New Jersey delegation, and especially Al and his sister-in-law. He was a very good friend to me."
Jim Hall, also a New Jersey Legionnaire and chairman of The American Legion Magazine Commission, had known Robotti since the pair were in high school. "We used to go to all the major meetings together, and we sometimes roomed together," Hall said. "We worked for and spent a lot of money in The American Legion. He was very popular in New Jersey and, I guess, all over. He worked hard, and he was just a very good all-around man."
Hall said Robotti was diagnosed with cancer shortly after the 2012 national convention and was given 6-12 months to live. "He made it almost two years," said Hall, who visited Robotti every other day in recent weeks. "He had a tough battle."
In addition to national vice commander and NECman, Robotti served in various department and national offices, including department commander from 1972 to 1973, department convention chairman from 1987 until the time of his death, and National Employment Committee chairman for the past 16 years.
"Al Robotti was an icon in The American Legion and in New Jersey," Comer said. "He will be missed." A viewing is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Aug. 18 at Hillsborough Funeral Home, 796 US Rt. 206, Hillsborough, NJ 08844. American Legion services will be at 3 p.m.
The funeral is at 10 a.m. Aug. 19 at St. Charles Borromeo Church, 376 Burnt Hill Road, Skillman, NJ 08558.
Robotti is survived by his sister-in-law Magdalena (Lee) Robotti, nieces and nephews Diane & Wayne Rudolph, Lewis & Dr. Cynthia Robotti, Renee Rudolph & Chris Meyer, Caitlyn & Michael Bellezza, Dr. Meredith & John Heiner, Amy & Jim Hyland, Jill & Michael Jernee, and many additional nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
Memorial contributions can be made to The American Legion Legacy Fund, 700 North Pennsylvania St., Indianapolis, IN 46204. Condolences can be sent to Magdalena (Lee) Robotti, 138 Washington Street, P.O. Box 211, Rocky Hill, NJ 08553.