In memory of Eugene J. "Gene" Robidoux February 21, 2013


I regret once again, to have to report (albeit rather late, I'm afraid) the passing of yet another of our mentors and dear friends:

Eugene J. "Gene" Robidoux 
February 21, 2013

Eugene J. "Gene” Robidoux, of North Hollywood, California died Thursday, February 21, 2013 - at Verdugo Hills Hospital. Gene had been in a semi coma for months as a result of a stroke.

Born in Manville, he was a son of the late Napoleon and Eva (Dupont) Robidoux. He was raised in Manville and attended St. James parochial school.

Mr. Robidoux was a graduate of Mount Saint Charles Academy, Class of 1954. He went on to graduate magna cum laude with his Masters and post-graduate degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles.

Gene was a veteran of the Los Angeles Public School system teaching math and computer science at Hollywood High School for over 44 years. In his earlier years Gene worked summers in television at KPLA.

A man of many interests Gene constructed his own radio apparatus and was expert with computer technology through its development over the last several decades. An adept mathematician Gene relished the chance to solve any mathematical problem regardless of length or complexity. Gene also was a train and railroad enthusiast.

Gene was the former husband and friend of Jeannine (Dery) Robidoux of Manville and is also survived by many friends on both the East and West Coasts.

His funeral was held Friday at 9:00 am at the Menard-Lacouture Funeral Home 71 Central St., Manville and was followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 am in St. James Church, Division St., Manville. 

Gene, if anyone were to have figured out how to communicate with your friends and former students - via a computer, it surely would be you! I'm sure I have somewhere buried in the attic - a shoe box FULL of computer cards, thousands of them - each with little rectangles filled in with #2 pencil - all to create a matrix image of Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse (flipping the bird) and a poor rendition of a Playboy centerfold - each above a yearly calendar.

You remembered not only my name, and my voice - but also unique personal data that surely would have been lost to most mortal of men. 

You were patient, yet tough. Compassionate, yet not a pushover... and found that "certain something" within everyone you encountered.

Many of us can identify the very beginning of our interests in math and computers - in your class and after school... and we are all forever grateful, and far better for having had you as a teacher and a friend.

-- Thank you Noel Valero and Gary Kevorkian for the notice and obit. 

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Comment by Dwight Everett on February 19, 2019 at 6:33pm

It's very sad to come to these pages to learn of these passing's!  I won't go on and on but I did have Mr. Robidoux for Math at Hollywood High. All I can say is for a Non Math whiz as I am, he was a excellent teacher, easily approached and made his students want to do well! I remember him so well...I had come up with an idea while doing a Homework assignment in which he praised me to no end and I even recall him giving me extra credit for my accomplishment, which I'm sure wasn't that mind bending. RIP Mr. Robidoux!!

Comment by Bradford L. Calhoun on April 2, 2015 at 10:45am

So sorry to receive this news -- albeit more than a year late.  I graduated from HHS in 1970.  Mr. Robidoux taught at LeConte Jr. Hi. before HHS, and was a huge influence on my life in the 9th grade.  Because of his experience at KTLA, he was asked to direct the 1966/67 Christmas and Spring Musical shows for the school.  I was shocked when he asked me to serve as the live "Narrator" for both of these shows.  He built up my confidence, insisted I be "off book" within a week, and provided a "stage" for this otherwise disinterested student to get involved and invested.  I've told my now adult children and many others over the years about the huge influence of Mr. Robidoux -- and I shall always honor and be grateful for his passion for teaching and shaping of my life.

Brad Calhoun

Comment by Wayne Smith on March 17, 2015 at 2:00pm

I graduated in 1979 and remained friends with Gene for more than 30 years.  I thought I would add a few more details to the nice post by Noel and Gary.

Gene was a cameraman for ABC at the 1968 democratic convention.  Some of the famous footage that is seen often on TV of the riot at that convention was shot--at some personal risk--by Gene himself.  He also worked at KTLA, not only as a fill-in cameraman but mostly in "Master Control", well into the 1980s.  Gene, along with his late colleague Martha Kohlmeyer of Bancroft Jr. High, also taught the first set of "in service" trainings on instructional technology for LAUSD faculty.  I was the student assistant for those weekend sessions, and it was during the planning, execution, and evaluation of those "in-services" that my subsequent IT consulting career and college school plans were (unknowningly at the time) cemented.  Gene helped to oversee the use of the Univac 1110 and PDP-11/70 for classroom purposes, and wrote one of the PDP's first editors (similar to what we would now recognize as emacs or VIM).  When he didn't think the systems were being probably managed for academic purposes, he would call the LAUSD Superintendent directly.  Gene ran the A/V Department at HHS for many years, and would regularly interconnect dual TV screens (and other technology) as computer output.  Although less widely known, Gene was also the "go-to" person to address problems related to the administrative mini-computers installed in the early 1980s.  Gene spent much of his own discretionary money on class materials.  For example, when HHS wouldn't secure his classroom with of the computers in it, Gene purchased steel plates and got permission to install them (I helped) to cover the interior windows.  There was basically little or no budget for disks, maintenance, etc., and even the rates of online (remote) access lines had to be negotiated each year.  In the early 1970s, Gene's classroom had students doing programming on various arithmetic and algebraic problems , "chatting" with other students at other schools via text during lunch, learning operating systems and "shell" scripting, designing graphics, and working with various other technologies (Fortran on cards, BASIC and C via TTY).  Gene also designed software that served as automated gradebooks, learning metrics, and quiz generators for various levels of math students.  These quizzes would "adapt" (similar to the way the GRE and GMAT is administered now) to the individual level of math proficiency of each student.  He really was a pioneer.  Gene's students knew how to use accounts to access the LAUSD time-sharing computers remotely, and he also negotiated with USC for some of us to have dial-up access to CSNet/BitNet and ARPAnet (which eventually morphed into the "Internet"). A generation of students would probably best remember his "Jeopardy" computer program and sets of questions that attracted a wide segment of faculty and students for many a lunchtime session (as I recall, it was hard to beat another notable teacher, Mr. Robert Falce...grin).  Gene not only loved trains but was a published author in the main rail-fan model building magazine.

Gene loved good food.  His favorite restaurant was Lawry's, and he and I would often treat his top computer science student each year to a nice Lawry's meal.  He called his mother every single night that I knew him.  This also helped him practice his native French.

Gene was indeed cantankerous.  But he was also an innovative pioneer.  For an educator, perhaps those two attributes are intractably intertwined.

Wayne Smith, Ph.D.

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