Friends bid final farewell to Joe Robert


Joe Robert with his sons Luke (center) and Joe Robert III (left). (Susan Biddle/The Washington Post)

At most funerals, you can pick out a few people who show up out of obligation, not affection. Not so at Wednesday’s service for philanthropist Joe Robert.

“There was nobody in that room who didn’t like Joe,” BET founder Bob Johnson told us.

Robert, who died last week at age 59 after a three-year battle with brain cancer, was a multimillionaire businessman with a flair for making and raising money — his annual “Fight Night” racked up millions for local children’s charities. But most of all, he was a genius at making friends — then hitting them up in his ongoing quest to save the world.


Mourners gathering outside of St. Matthew's Cathedral on Wednesday. (Roxanne Roberts/The Washington Post)

“Dad loved everyone: Friends, family, the world, even people he didn’t know — but most of all children,” said his younger son Luke during his eulogy with his older brother Joe III.


Jim Kimpsey and Quincy Jones at Cafe Milano during a lunch to honor Joe Robert. (Roxanne Roberts/The Washington Post)

His death was not sudden; by his own calculation, Robert lived a couple years longer than he or his doctors expected. So mourners flooded out of the cathedral, sad but not stricken, hugging his family and each other. About 400 people headed to Cafe Milano, where owner Franco Nuschese closed the Georgetown restaurant — the site of so many of Robert’s celebrations — and threw one last party for his old friend.

“We knew it was coming, but it sucks that it’s finally here,” said Raul Fernandez. “The best thing we can do is carry on his work.”

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