Walter Payne Robertson
Nov. 8, 1941 – Sept. 16, 2020
Walter (Shorty) Payne Robertson died of complications from cancer on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, in San Diego, Calif., surrounded by his wife of 54 years, Betty, his children, and his two surviving siblings. He was 78.
Shorty was born in Dallas on Nov. 8, 1941, to Velma and Willard Robertson. His formative years were spent in Alvarado, Texas, where the seed of a strong work ethic was sown through many jobs during his youth, including that of soda jerk at the classic Alvarado Drug. He was a star player on both offense and defense for the Alvarado Indians football team and also excelled in basketball. In seventh grade, his classmates christened him “Shorty,” an ironic nod to his towering 6’ 5” stature. The moniker stuck and became the name that the many people who loved him called him throughout his life.
Shorty met Betty Schroeder, the love of his life, while attending Texas Christian University, from which he received a full athletic scholarship after being recruited by the legendary TCU football coach Abe Martin. In addition to playing and coaching freshman football, he was also a member of Army ROTC.
Following his graduation in 1964 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, Shorty served as a second lieutenant in the Army Corps of Engineers, including one year in South Vietnam, where he helped build the American naval base at Cam Ranh Bay. He was awarded a Bronze Star for acts of valor.
Back in the United States in 1966, Shorty married Betty, and the couple settled in Fort Worth, where he began an illustrious career with General Dynamics (GD).
In 1979, Shorty was promoted within GD, requiring the family to move to San Diego. The Robertsons kept their love of Texas while they thrived in their community of Scripps Ranch in San Diego. Shorty enjoyed following his kids’ sports teams and participated in Scripps Ranch’s Old Pros Club.
After retiring from General Dynamics, Shorty joined Maxwell Technologies. Dedicated to his career in the defense industry, Shorty traveled extensively and oversaw a number of both high profile and classified government projects like the F-16 fighter jet, B-1 Bomber and DC-10 fuselage. When he retired in 1999, he was president of Maxwell’s Systems Division, focusing on advanced weapons research and development programs. Even after retirement, he was sought after for consulting work.
Shorty’s love of football never waned, and he remained a loyal fan of the TCU Horned Frogs and the San Diego Chargers. A highlight of his later years was attending the 2011 Rose Bowl with his daughter (also a TCU graduate), granddaughter Sinclair, and brother-in-law, where his undefeated Horned Frogs beat the Wisconsin Badgers and secured the No. 2 ranking in the country. His fierce competitiveness even extended to card games and dominoes, and he loved reading and discussing current events and politics.
Shorty is survived by his wife, Betty; his son, Scott Robertson (Michelle) of Darien, Conn., and their children, Connor and Campbell Robertson; his daughter, Susanne McComic (Chris) of San Diego, and their children, Sinclair, Cole and Cade McComic; his brother, James Robertson (Marilee) of Irving, Texas; his sister, Betty Robertson of Pflugerville, Texas; and his brother-in-law, Wallace Schroeder of Sarasota, Fla. The older of his two sisters, Mary Nell Robertson, died in March 2020.
Shorty was a beloved son, husband, father, grandfather, brother, uncle, and friend to many. His wit, wisdom, compassion, strength, and tenacity will be missed.
A memorial will be held in San Diego at a later date. Burial will be in Betty’s hometown of Elgin, Texas. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to the Veterans of Foreign Wars or a charity of choice.
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