Francis J. Robinson, a retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers inspector who was part of the team that designed the first portable nuclear reactor made to provide utilities for an Army base in Greenland, died Monday in Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center after a brief illness. He was 88.
Mr. Robinson remained a consultant for the Corps of Engineers after his retirement in 1969. After working with a corps team in Dunkirk in 1960 to design the portable nuclear reactor, he also participated in the corps' 1969 diversion of the Niagara River, which allowed the American Falls to be examined for erosion studies.
Born in Buffalo and a graduate of South Park High School, he joined the Navy in 1942, rising to the rank of chief petty officer and serving several tours in the Atlantic during World War II, including the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach in 1944.
While recovering from war injuries, Mr. Robinson earned an engineering certificate from Pennsylvania State University, and he joined the Army Corps of Engineers in 1948.
A life member of the American Legion, he also was a former member of the board of directors of the Navy's Chief Petty Officers Club.
Surviving are four sons, Patrick, Daniel, Francis and Matthew, and four daughters, Mary Mertlbauer, Jane Gilbride, Margaret Albers and Laura Dickinson.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Friday in St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, 450 Abbott Road.