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Canada Niagara Region philanthropist dies in Maine plane crash along with wife and daughter

Friends say a wealthy Ontario couple and their daughter who died in a small plane crash in Maine were prominent philanthropists who gave their time generously to support the arts, universities and charities in the Niagara Region. Joseph Robertson and Anita Robertson are seen in an undated handout photo.

HO/The Canadian Press

A prominent Niagara Region businessman and philanthropist died along with his wife and daughter in a plane crash in Maine on Monday, local police have confirmed.

Joe Robertson, 58, a former board trustee for Brock University and an MBA graduate from Harvard University, was flying to Prince Edward Island when a distress call was made near Greenville Municipal Airport in Maine.

Greenville police said the twin-propeller private plane crashed just short of the runway on its approach, and all three occupants were declared dead at the scene.

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Mr. Robertson served as chair of the Brock University board of trustees for two years between 2012 and 2014. He was the president and CEO of Amax Health Inc., a dental and medical supply company, and the president of Gage Street Capital, a family-owned investment company in the Niagara Region.

His 24-year-old daughter, Laura Robertson, had been hired to work with the university’s athletics and recreation department only days before the crash.

“During the years Joe served on the board, the university made significant strides forward. He helped to lay the foundation for some of the future achievements of this university,” Gary Comerford, chair of Brock’s current board of trustees, said in a press release.

Brock president Gervan Fearon said the university was “absolutely shocked and saddened by this incredible tragedy.”

Mr. Robertson and his wife, Anita Robertson, were described as community philanthropists who helped finance an arts and performing venue in downtown St. Catharines, Ont., and funded a bursary to support hospital staff who took classes at Brock University.

Ms. Robertson was a nurse by profession, and was an active volunteer in the community and at Brock University.

St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik said that the Robertsons had made an incredible impact on the community that will live on through the causes they’ve supported.

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“Joe and Anita were very kind and generous people who cared deeply about making our community more caring and inclusive,” said Mr. Sendzik, who added he was friends with Mr. Robertson and his family before becoming mayor.

“Many lives have been touched by the Robertson family.”

Mr. Robertson was described by people who have worked with him as a dedicated family man who was always diligent and prepared for every meeting he attended.

Mr. Sendzik said Mr. Robertson was a lover of rock music and hockey, and that he had built a backyard ice rink complete with dressing rooms in his backyard over a winter season.

He said the family is survived by two sons, who are in their 20s.

Maine police said the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were continuing their investigation into the crash on Tuesday.

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Mr. Robertson was the pilot of the aircraft, which took off at around 9 a.m. on Monday morning. The plane was bound for Charlottetown when it crashed about an hour and 45 minutes later.

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