Don Robinson calls his Chandler home a “junk collector’s paradise.” Each room is filled with a treasure trove of collections reflecting his years of traveling, his eclectic taste and career mementos.
Robinson’s collection of all things Disney, especially Mickey and Minnie Mouse, overflows throughout the house among his wife Audrey’s collection of ceramic and metal chickens.
A self-proclaimed “pack rat,” his collections include everything from pocketknives and mine spikes, to old keys and 60 masks from around the world.
“It doesn’t take much to amuse me,” said the 75-yearold. “I have entirely too much junk.”
He became enamored with Disney during grade school when he began drawing Disney characters at his aunt’s house. His drawings turned into a lifelong love of cartooning, and a motivational aspect of his life.
Robinson credits his “fabulous” high school art teacher, Jeannette Lacey, with keeping him in school and turning him on to several art media.
He was ditching classes and got kicked out of school, and he said he only returned because of Lacey’s inspiration. Now 90 years old and living in Colorado, Robinson still talks to her weekly.
He became an art major at Northern Colorado University, along with his wife, and got into stagecraft, jewelry making, leather working and wood carvings.
His work can be found around his house.
Robinson started drawing caricatures for local newspapers when he served in the U.S. Air Force and during his years teaching arts and crafts at a Colorado high school.
His portfolios include caricatures of former Arizona State University President Lattie Coor and “Wallace and Ladmo” alum Pat McMahon.
Robinson was an awardwinning gymnast in high school and college. His medals and a picture of a young, chiseled Robinson with a buzz cut hang in his office, along with his collection of gymnast pins from around the world.
After his competing years ended, he coached gymnastics in high school and college.
He was the ASU men’s gymnastics coach for 25 years until the sport was dropped in 1993. He took the USA men’s gymnastics team to South Africa (USA won), and his walls are covered with newspaper clippings, photos and medals from his years of coaching.
He was named the national coach of the year when his team at ASU won the nationals in 1986.
His students include the current Phoenix Suns gorilla mascot, and several other basketball mascots.
After his retirement from coaching, he began teaching cartooning and illustrations to students of all ages for free. He estimates he’s taught at least 18,000 students how to draw.
“To me kids love cartooning, period,” he said. “I hate the cartoons now, like the ‘Simpsons’ and ‘Family Guy.’ They’re all gross and use bad language. I love Tweety and Sylvester, and of course, Disney.”