Eight Bells: Robin Wallace
Published on March 21st, 2021
Dr. Robin Wallace of Middletown (RI), 84, crossed the bar at home on March 20 after a long struggle, without complaint, with prostate cancer. Born Alan Robin Gordon Wallace on November 20, 1936, in Weymouth, England, he was the only child of Dr. Gordon and Muriel Wallace.
Robin grew up sailing in Weymouth with his father. Robin graduated with a Degree in Medicine from Exeter College in Oxford University. He first visited Newport in 1964, when his father was Commodore of the Royal Dorset Yacht Club, the Challenger of Record, for the British America’s Cup Challenge, as well as Fleet Surgeon; the same position his son would hold years later for the New York Yacht Club.
Robin desired to do his residency in the United States, and did so at the Children’s Hospital in Boston. After completing his residency in the United States, he moved to Newport, and established his practice in association with Dr. Fred Pearce at the Aquidneck Medical Associates.
Soon after he commenced his practice, although a British Citizen, Robin was drafted into the U.S. Army where he served in Vietnam as a Major in the Medical Corps. After his service, he returned to his practice on Memorial Boulevard until retirement in 2003. He remained however the ‘school doctor’ for St. George’s School until 2017.
To describe Robin as an icon in Newport is an understatement. Robin quickly established himself, not only as a sought after pediatrician but also as an avid promoter of sailing.
As a member of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club he and his predecessor, Race Committee Chairman Robert Conner, were determined to establish new standards of excellence in race management. They trained the members of the Club and at the same time introduced to America a European type of level ocean racing called “ton” racing.
The race series for the Sail Cup was an instant success and showcased the race management competence of the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, for which it is nationally recognized today.
Robin not only worked on the water, he promoted sailing events for Newport. As the Chairman of the State Yachting Committee, for over seventeen years, he educated the state legislators of the tremendous economic impact that sailing produced for the state.
Probably the most successful events for Newport and the State of Rhode Island were the Volvo Ocean Races in 2015 and 2018 which, it is fair to say, would not have stopped in Newport without the efforts of the State Yachting committee advocating for the release of state funding required to support the event.
Sailing was not Robin’s only love. He was devoted to St. George’s School. He conducted morning “sick call” at the school for over thirty-five years and was instrumental in upgrading the health center and the general wellness of the St. George’s community.
His gentle and respectful manner gained the confidence of many teenagers and they often sought his counsel and advice. He attended football and hockey games, home and away, to provide immediate medical attention to players on both teams in the event of injury. His devotion to the student athletes was recognized by the school when he was inducted into its Athletic Hall of Fame several years ago.
After the loss of the America’s Cup in 1983, Robin was one of the founding members of Sail Newport, a public sailing organization that provides sailing instruction and boating facilities to the public. Currently all 4th graders in the Newport school system are introduced to sailing at Sail Newport. The organization also runs regattas and hosts many different sailing events and activities that contribute to the betterment of the entire community.
Robin was a Commodore of Ida Lewis Yacht Club and also a long time member of the New York Yacht Club. He was active in race management at both clubs this past season as sailing was one of the sports that one was able to participate in during the pandemic. He was also a long time active member of the Newport Reading Room.
Robin has been long loved by several generations of his pediatric patients and their parents and will be greatly missed by them and a wide spectrum of friends.
He leaves two cousins in England, his St. George’s family, his Sail Newport family, his Ida Lewis family, the Murphy family, his loyal friends Bill and Pat Steel, and a host of friends in Newport and beyond.
Those wishing to commemorate Robin may do so by donating to Sail Newport, 72 Fort Adams Drive, Newport RI 02840.