In 1974, with Mr. Robinson as its chief executive, the company was ranked by Black Enterprises Magazine 20th among the nation's 100 biggest black-owned businesses, with 117 employees and $2.7 million in assets.
"A Renaissance man" who recorded a music album in his early 90s, Mr. Robinson is known in Philadelphia's black community for his dedication to the teaching and promotion of African and African American history.
Businessman and music producer Kenny Gamble said Mr. Robinson "told us that we are not slaves, that we are descendants of kings and queens, and that we must get back to our culture and heritage."
Edward Wesley Robinson Jr. was born in Philadelphia on April 24, 1918, the son of Ethel Robinson and Edward W. Robinson Sr.
He attended Philadelphia public schools and graduated from Central High School. Mr. Robinson attended Virginia State College for Negroes (now Virginia State University), where he earned an undergraduate degree in 1940.
Mr. Robinson later studied at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In 1957, he graduated from the Temple University School of Law.
After running his insurance company, Mr. Robinson joined the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Co. as a vice president.
From 1972 to 1975, Mr. Robinson was a member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
In 1975, Pennsylvania Gov. Milton J. Shapp appointed Mr. Robinson head of the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs. The bureau oversaw 21 boards that license pharmacists, physicians, and others in service-oriented occupations.
From 1980 to 1984, Mr. Robinson held posts in Philadelphia government, serving as assistant managing director and then director of the Office of Minority Opportunities.
Former Mayor W. Wilson Goode Sr. hailed Mr. Robinson for his work to boost minority entrepreneurs.
"I think that one of the most significant things that Edward Robinson did in 1980 or 1982 was to develop the case for the city for minority set-aside programs," Goode said, noting that the programs opened doors for minority businesses to get contracts for government business.
Walter P. Lomax, a Philadelphia physician, businessman, and longtime friend of Mr. Robinson's, lauded Mr. Robinson for his work advocating African American history.
"I met Ed in the mid-1960s, and he was a true mentor in terms of my appreciation of the grandeur of Africa and the relationship it has to us as African Americans," Lomax said.
In 2004, Mr. Robinson wrote the "classroom modules" for teaching African American studies in kindergarten through eighth grade, said Melvin Garrison, content specialist for K-12 social studies and African American studies in the Philadelphia School District.
Mr. Robinson was the uncle of the late State Rep. David P. Richardson Jr., who also advocated for the teaching of African American history in Philadelphia schools.
Mr. Robinson was a coauthor in 1987 of The Journey of the Songhai People, a history of the African diaspora. He also produced videos and books on African and African American history.
He also developed the African Genesis curriculum for the d'Zert Club, a Philadelphia organization that organizes cultural trips for adults and children to Africa and other places of interest to African Americans.
Gamble said that about two years ago, he produced an album of songs sung by Mr. Robinson. The recording, Images of Love, was made at Philadelphia International Records. Gamble said the record contains classics such as "Ol' Man River."
Pamela Robinson-Johnson, Mr. Robinson's daughter, said people gravitated to her father, who she said loved to tell stories and jokes.
"He was the kind of person that when he walked into a room, people were totally attracted to him whether they knew him or not," Robinson-Johnson said.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Robinson is survived by his wife, Harriette C. Robinson, and another daughter, Michelle Harman. A son, Edward W. Robinson 3d, died in 1989.
A viewing will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. Friday, June 22, at A.M.E. Union Church at 16th and Jefferson Streets in North Philadelphia. The funeral will begin at 11 a.m. Interment will be at Merion Memorial Park in Bala Cynwyd.
Contact Vernon Clark at 215-854-5717 or firstname.lastname@example.org.