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Object ID 2006.02.01
Title Oral History Interview with Donald Robertson
Object Name Oral History
Date May 2005
Creator History Associates, INC
Description Chevy Chase Historical Society Oral History Project

Interview with Donald Robertson

Date: May 23, 2005

Interviewed by Adrian Kinnane

Summary and Index of Terms
Written By: Alexander R. Parker
Monday, October 24th, 2011

Donald Robertson was born in Washington, DC in 1931. Growing up in Chevy Chase, Donald attended Chevy Chase Elementary, Leland Junior High, and Woodrow Wilson High School. Upon graduating, he attended Oberlin College and received a BA in 1953. He quickly joined the Navy and served during the Korean War as a Naval Officer on an Atlantic Fleet destroyer. Following his service, Don received a law degree from Columbia University in 1958. He was admitted to practice in DC in 1959, and began serving as a clerk to Judge Myers in the DC Municipal Court. The following year, Don met his wife Marion, they married and moved to Chevy Chase.
After clerking for Judge Myers, Robertson went to work with attorney Alan Cole, and then was hired by Ross, Marsh, & Foster as an associate, and he eventually became a partner. Over the years, Don focused his practice on Maryland and District Columbia issues, for the most part covering estate planning, estate and trust administration, taxation, real estate, elections law, and small business matters. As time went by he also joined many Bar Associations, including the Maryland State Bar Association, the Montgomery County Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the Federal Bar Association. He also began writing for publication in the mid 1960s, covering topics like developments in natural gas regulation, legislator compensation, public service commissions, and numerous miscellaneous articles on political subjects, written for the Washington Post, the Montgomery County Sentinel, the Montgomery County Journal, the Suburban Record, and other periodicals.
As Robertson settled into his family life, having four children, he became involved with politics. Starting in the early 60s, Don volunteered on numerous campaigns and got a feel for the political process. In 1968, he ran for his first elected office, winning a seat on the Citizen's Committee of Chevy Chase, Section III, which he was reelected to in 1970 and was Vice Chairman from 1968-1971. In 1970, Robertson was elected to the House of Delegates of Maryland. The following year he was voted onto the Montgomery County Delegation, as Chairman, and resided over numerous committees, commissions, and task forces until 1978. In 1979, he became Majority Leader and began his tenure on the Legislative Policy Committee and the Joint Fiscal Leadership committee, both of which he remained on until the late 1980s. In 1987 he was reelected and named Speaker Pro Tem until his resignation in 1989.
Robertson was a very important member of the Maryland House of Delegates, focusing on election law, ethics in government, utility regulation, taxation, legislative process, procedure, organization, and management, constitutional law, local government law, administrative procedures law, workers' compensation law, and legislative redistricting.
After his resignation from politics, Robertson continued working in different civic activities. From 1989-1994, Don served as Commissioner of the Government Ethics Center, at the Josephson Institute for the Advancement of Ethics in Marina, del Rey, California. From 1990-1992, he was a member of the State Personnel Article Review Committee handling Maryland Code Revision. From 1993-1995, he stood as Chairman of the State Ethics Law Review Committee. From 1998-2002 he was a member of the State Election Law Article Review Committee, and from 1999-2001, he was Chairman of a Study Commission on Lobbyist Ethics.
Along with giving a detailed account of a very important public life, Robertson's oral history interview gives many insights into life in the Washington, DC area during the mid and late 20th century. He discusses the atmosphere during World War II and the turbulent 1960s, education in Chevy Chase, many different generations of neighbors, the physical development of the Chevy Chase, voting trends in the Town and Village, and how numerous events affected Chevy Chase.

Index of Terms:

15th Street
16th Street
41s Street
44th Street
All Saints Episcopal Church
Annapolis, Maryland
Ashley, Anne
Atkins, Craig
Austin, Bill
Avalon Theater
Baltimore, Maryland
Bank of Bethesda
Bates College
Beech Drive
Bethany Beach
Bethesda Chevy Chase High School
Bethesda Recreation Center
Bonneville, Joanne
Bonneville, Bill
Boss and Phelps Real Estate
Bowen, Grace Robertson
Bradley Lane
Braves Field
Brewington, Pamela
Brookville Pharmacy
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Candy Cane Village
Carleton College
Chevy Chase
Chevy Chase Circle
Chevy Chase Elementary
Chevy Chase Historical Society
Chevy Chase Post Office
Chevy Chase Reading Class
Chevy Chase Village
Chevy Chase, DC
Citizens Committee of Section III
Civil Rights Movement
Cole, Alan
Columbia Hospital for Women
Columbia University Law School
Commissioner of Patents
Community Center for Section Four
Connecticut Avenue
Corley, Karl
Council of Economic Advisors
County Council
Cousins, Sydney
Cuban Missile Crisis
Daly, Ruth
DC Municipal Court
DC Superior Court
Delaware Street
Democratic Party
District of Columbia
Dodd, Ocie
E Street
East-West Highway
Ellicott Street
Elm Street
Fenway Park
Florence Crittenden Home
Frederick County
Freedom Marchers
Friendship Heights
Futterer, Charles
General Marshall
George Washington University
George Washington University Hospital
Georgia Avenue
Governor Mandel
Grafton Street
Griffith Stadium
Hannah More Academy
Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Hickey, Audley
Hills, David
Hiser Theater
Hoover Institution
Hot Shoppes
Howard County
Ingomar Street
Jackson, Jeff
Jones Bridge Road
Judge Myers
Kain, Agnes
Kain, Paul
Kennedy, John F.
Kennedy, Robert
King, Martin Luther
Kirke Street
Kirkside Drive
Korean War
Leach, Walter
Lee, Blair
Leland Junior High School
Leland Street
Lenox Street
Long Island
Lorain, Ohio
Los Angeles
Martin, Dick
Martin, Donald O.
Martin, Jim
Maryland House of Delegates
McKinley Avenue
Melrose Street
Meridian Hill
Montgomery County
Montgomery County Delegation
Moore, Arthur Cotton
Moore, Thomas G.
Muir, Ken
Naval Hospital
Naval Reserve Unit
Naval ROTC
Nazi Germany
New York
Nieman Foundation
Nixon, Richard
Nolan, Jim
Nolan, Stan
Northrup, Turner
Norwood Drive
Oak Ridge Street
Offut, Bill
Oxford Street
Pearl Harbor
People's Drug Store
Perry, Thomas
Potomac River
Price, Meredith
Rae, Jack
Rae, Jim
Reisterstown, Maryland
Republican Party
Rice, Craig
Rice, Glover
Robertson, Donald
Robertson, Jane Turner
Robertson, Judith Meacham
Robertson, Mary Brackett
Robertson, Thomas E.
Robertson, Thomas J.W.
Rock Creek Park
Rogers, George M.
Rogers, Ted
Rollingwood Recreation Center
Ronald Reagan
Roosevelt, Franklin Delano
Rose, Anna P.
Ross, Marsh, and Foster
Rothballer, Roger,
Schmitt, Fred
Schweinhaut, Margaret
Section Four
Selma, Alabama
Shapiro, Doc
Shapiro, Hattie
Shepherd Street
Silver Spring
Smoot, Mildred E.
Spring Street
Stanford University
State Highway Administration
Stevenson, Adlai
Stimson, Richard D. Jr.
Takoma Park
Taylor Street
Teachers' College at Columbia University
The Daily News
The Depression
The Evening Star
The Hamlet
The Navy
The United States of America
The Washington Post
The Washington Times Herald
Turner Lane
Union Station
United Nations
United States Post Office
University of Chicago
VE Day
VJ Day
War in Vietnam
Warner, Carden F.
Warner, Catherine
Warner, Julia
Warner, Mary
Washington Redskins
Weigert, Walter
West 119th Street
West Melrose Street
Western Avenue
Wiegand, Martin T.
Willow Lane
Wisconsin Avenue
Wise, Norris E.
Wise, Norris E.
Woodbine Street
Woodrow Wilson High School
World War II
Worsley, James R., Jr.
Young Democratic Club
Young, James M.