Michael Lynn Robertson, of Naples, FL, formerly of Marion, IL, passed away on Tuesday, September 21, while on a boat excursion throughout Central America. He was 72 years old.
Michael was born in Carbondale, Illinois on December 17, 1948, to B.B. (Bert) and Monta Claire Robertson. He graduated from Marion High School in 1966, where he made lifelong friends and was known for his blue eyes and great dancing.
Michael served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army from 1968-1970. He then went on to perform a variety of jobs where he acquired the wherewithal that would later serve as the foundation to what would become his life's work.
In 1973 Michael and his father opened "Robertson's Hickory Pit," a barbecue restaurant in Decatur, Illinois. They had a need for a more consistent, less labor-intensive way to prepare traditional BBQ and together, they built their first barbecue pit. The basic design elements ultimately evolved into a manufacturable model, the BBR-700, offered for sale in 1976. B.B. and Michael decided to fabricate and sell barbecue smokers which led them to co-found Southern Pride. That first year, Michael hand built 6 smokers and B.B. hit the road to sell them. From those humble beginnings, there have been over 25,000 Southern Pride smokers sold worldwide. Millions of people have been able to share a meal and enjoy great times over food prepared on Southern Pride equipment because of Michael's entrepreneurship and vision.
Throughout his life Michael enjoyed traveling both domestically and internationally. He loved entertaining, boating, dining, dancing, and enjoying a good scotch. He truly embraced life, denying himself little.
Michael is survived by Becky Robertson, sister Judy Robertson, his children Bret and Donna, Jared and Heather, Jason, grandson Dalton, and their families.
He was preceded in death by his parents.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests with gratitude that memorials honoring Michael Robertson be made to St. Jude. To honor Michael's wishes, there will be no public services.