EVERETT — Hank Robinett, perhaps the most ardent supporter of commercial passenger flights at Paine Field, says he didn’t spend 30 years fighting for the service at the local airport to earn recognition.
But he’s getting some credit, anyway.
A street sign on the thoroughfare leading to Paine Field now bears the name of the real estate developer and former airport commissioner, who devoted decades to convincing residents and elected leaders that passenger air service would lead to an economic windfall that would far outweigh effects of noise or pollution.
Robinett said he was doing what he had to do “to help our county move forward.”
“I didn’t do it for any publicity,” he said. “But it was nice to get recognized, that’s for sure.”
The Snohomish County Council unanimously voted in December to dedicate 100th Street SW as “Hank Robinett Drive” in honor of the 89-year-old airport advocate, who is also the patriarch of one of the county’s most politically active families.
Robinett “has dedicated his life to the service of his country and community as a friend, a mentor, a patriot and a driving force for community service and economic development throughout Snohomish County,” states a resolution passed by the council.
“He has been passionate about bringing commercial air service to Paine Field for as long as I can remember,” said Snohomish County Executive Dave Somers, whose office proposed renaming the street. “He’s got an amazing history.”
The local Republican stalwart has served his fellow citizens in a variety of ways, from “providing housing for families and jobs to workers” to taking on leadership roles with charitable organizations and economic development groups, says the resolution passed by the council.
Robinett, a graduate of Lake Stevens High School, also served as a pilot in the United States Marine Corps for two decades, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He flew combat missions during the Korean and Vietnam wars.
“I have an aviation background, and I know the importance of aviation and the importance of airports,” Robinett said. He added that bringing passenger service to the airport was “a tremendous door opener for future economic development for Snohomish County.”
Somers echoed the sentiment, calling Paine Field’s expansion “a wild success.”
“(Robinett) has just been a solid supporter and voice in the community that this would be something that’s good for the county, and I think that’s something that’s proven correct,” Somers said. “It really kind of gives us a connection to the rest of the world that we didn’t have before.”