James F. 'Robes' Robillard

A friend remembers

UPDATED, July 12: "Robes" is gone. James F. Robillard, the force of nature in Arlington Babe Ruth Baseball for whom the Summer Street field will be renamed, died Monday, July 6.

A Babe Ruth coach for 55 years, he succumbed to ailment eight days after events to rename the field were postponed.

Robillard was inducted into the Babe Ruth Baseball Hall of Fame last November. The Arlington Babe Ruth website says: "His impact on our baseball program, our town, and most importantly, the thousands of kids who were able to play Babe Ruth Baseball under his guidance will forever be remembered."

"Jim was aware of the event and was proud to be a part of the program over all the years. While Jim will not be present for the future official dedication, we know his spirit will always be on the sidelines. Jim would not be one to dwell on sadness and we are sure that he is above us now yelling 'play ball!'"

Longtime friend Jim Palmer wrote on Facebook:

"It's with deep sadness and a heavy heart that I write this post. Yesterday the town of Arlington and the Arlington Babe Ruth Program lost a true legend ....

"He fought courageously and passed peacefully.

"Personally, I lost a mentor, a father figure, a coaching partner, & a true friend. Robes meant the world to me as he did to most who had the honor to know him.

"His name is synonymous with baseball in Arlington. He has left behind a legacy and a pair of shoes that can never be filled.

"I loved the man both on and off the ball field and promise to continue to coach his two teams (the Cubs and the Pond Rats) with respect, dedication, hard work, and a lot of pride!

"The baseball gods in heaven will roll out the red carpet and welcome him through the 'pearly gates' with open arms. God bless you, Robes. Rest in Peace."

A notice in the July 8 Globe lists his relatives: husband of Gloria (Thompson) and father of Linda Ladopoulos of Chelmsford, Eric Johanson of Florida, Linnea Wingereter of New Hampshire, James Robillard of Arlington, Frank Robillard of Burlington and Joe Robillard of Peabody.

He is also a brother of Joanne Corbett of Arlington, Stephen Robillard of Billerica and the late Richard Robillard.

He is survived by 12 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.

The funeral is from the Keefe Funeral Home, 5 Chestnut St. at 9 a.m. Friday, July 10.

Funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. at St. Agnes Church. Relatives and friends invited.

Visitation from the funeral home is set for Thursday, July 9, from 4 to 8 p.m.

Burial is private. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the James Robillard Field Renovation Fund. Make out checks to Arlington Babe Ruth for James Robillard Field Renovation Fund, 76 Crawford St., Arlington, MA 02474 or go to www.arlingtonbb.org.

This report was published Wednesday, July 8, 2015, and updated July 12, with Palmer's comments.