This letter from Peter Thompson Robertson, an attorney in Newton, Massachusetts, was sent to Celesa Willett, executive director of United Way of Haywood County along with a hefty contribution for the flood relief fund.

Dear Ms. Willett:

I am writing to let you know about the essential role that attorney Pat Smathers played in getting the Robertson family to contribute to the United Way of Haywood County for its flood relief efforts.

In total, individual family members and the Reuben B. Robertson Foundation, together with the matching funds from Coverys, will have donated nearly $15,000 towards helping the victims of the August flooding through the United Way.

While this is a relatively paltry amount compared to the losses the flood victims have suffered, we hope it will be of some assistance. Without Pat’s guidance towards the United Way and his other assistance, these contributions would not have happened. We hope you will let your board know how helpful Pat has been in this regard.

It also helped tremendously that Balsam Range was the headliner for the October 2nd benefit. We became familiar with the group when my brother George arranged for them to play at a family reunion at Lake Logan seven years ago. We all really enjoy their music, and they gave us even more incentive to donate now.

Most important, though, in our wanting to help out is the long and deep connection of our family (the Thomsons and Robertsons) to Canton and its hardworking residents and especially to the Champion family – the many thousands of people from the area that worked for Champion over nearly 100 years. The family connection to the area dates back to sometime around 1905 when our great-grandfather Peter G. Thomson began scouting the area for the location of a pulp mill. He finally settled on building the mill in Canton.

That connection to the people and the area was reinforced when he asked his son in-law and our grandfather Reuben B. Robertson, Sr., then an attorney practicing law with his father in Cincinnati, to come to the area in 1907, ostensibly for only 60 days, to provide assistance in getting the mill built. Reuben Senior never left the area.

He ended up working for Champion for the entire remainder of his career, eventually rising to the presidency. Reuben Senior and his family, including our father Reuben B. Roberson, Jr., loved the area and became a part of the fabric of the community.

Our father was born in Asheville and spent considerable time in his youth roaming the mountains in the area, where he began a lifelong love of fishing and hunting and outdoor activities. He started working in the Canton mill during vacations when he was a teenager and immediately went to work there for the first part of his career with Champion right after graduating from college. He knew from the time he was a boy that that was where he wanted to work, and he spent the rest of his career, working for the company.

And like his father, he got to know almost all of the Champion employees on a first-name basis. He loved the area and the people, and he and our grandfather passed that love of the people and of outdoor activities to their children and grandchildren.

This is a longwinded way of saying that the Robertson family greatly appreciates the work the United Way is doing to help the families in the area who have been so terribly affected by the August flooding. Please keep up the good work.

All the best and with great appreciation.

- Peter T. Robertson

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