Robert Zhongjie Yin (December 12, 1989 - May 17, 2010)

SON  Brother  Friend  忠杰 
RIP Robert, we love you.
was fun to be with, friendly, loyal, and loving towards friends.

Robert was born December 12, 1989. He grew up in Rockville, Maryland. Robert's life was immersed in music. He loved singing, viola, and violin. He loved sports, such as track and baseball.  He loved reading novels.  He loved dancing. Most of all he loved his friends and family. He graduated from Wootton High School Class of 2008.  

Childhood Through Middle School

Robert was baptized at the Wollaston United Methodist Church in Quincy, Massachusetts, in August 1990.

Robert lived in Silver Spring in early childhood, Robert sang in his first choir, the "Cherub Choir", from age 2 1/2 through first grade. This was at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Silver Spring, where he attended pre-school, choir, and summer choir camps under the loving direction of Linda Pannebaker.  He next attended kindergarten and first grade at the Washington Christian School in Wheaton. 

Robert began violin after age 5, taught by his father, Jeremy Yin. 

During 1st grade, the family moved to Rockville. Robert attended 2nd grade at Lakewood Elementary (where he had a substitute teacher for the entire year). Then he transferred to Christ Episcopal School for 2nd and 3rd grade. Robert joined the Junior Boys Training Choir at the Washington National Cathedral, led by charismatic Assistant Organist and Choirmaster Nick White. For two years, Robert sang weekly at the Cathedral's Bethlehem Chapel.

Robert took Tae Kwon Do for three years and earned a Purple Belt.  He regularly won the jumprope endurance tests. He played soccer and basketball with Rockville Recreation.

In grade 3, Robert, together with his brother Alex who had been observing Robert sing all these years, joined the Christ Episcopal Church Choristers, with Music Director Tad Cavuoti.  Tad provided a spiritual environment in which to grow via music, complete with weekly rehearsals, singing every Sunday, plus festivals, and Evensongs. The Choristers were guest singers at churches in New York City, Williamsburg, VA, and many beautiful churches in the DC area. The Choristers were like extended family. Robert and his brother Alex attended Royal School of Church Music summer camps at King's College in Wilkes Barre, PA for two summers.  Many of Tad's Choristers majored in music and music education. Robert was "Head Chorister" in 8th grade. Robert was buried with his Royal School of Church Music medallion.

As a treble singer, Robert and Alex sang with the Washington Opera Summer Camp for two summers. The first year Robert was lead soloist in "Thunder of Horses".  The second year the milkman in "Brundibar", an opera about the Holocaust.  The following summer Robert sang with the children's chorus with the Catholic University Summer Opera in Leoncavallo's "I Pagliacci".

Robert and his brother Alex attended Chinese school once a week on Sunday. Robert and Alex joined with all-girl Chinese folk dancing classes for Chinese New Year festivals. Robert and Alex finished Chinese 4th grade.  Then Robert declared he would play baseball. Robert played catcher. He usually batted 1st Position because he could run fast and steal bases. Robert played baseball grades 5 through 7, then switched to cross-country and track.

Robert began community service at a young age.  Next door to his home in Rockville is a nursing home. During Lower School, Robert sang Christmas carols once a year to elderly or Alzheimer's patients there.  Then throughout Middle School and High School, Robert and Alex went once a month to entertain the nursing home neighbors with songs in voice, violin, and viola.

In grades 4 through 8 Robert attended Landon School in Bethesda. Alex too. Landon is a private boys school, perhaps reminiscent of British-style Hogwarts school in America.  Robert's music teacher was Michael Wu, who was another huge influence to shape Robert and Alexander musically.  Mr. Wu took Robert and the "Little Singers" to Carnegie Hall in 2002.  Robert sang the Messiah for five Christmases with annual Landon performance - at first as soprano, later alto, and finally tenor.  Landon teachers instilled Robert with the values and discipline of being both scholar and athlete, values that Robert carried with him forever.

High School

Robert loved Wootton! Beginning Fall 2004, grade 9, Robert transferred to Wootton High School in Rockville. Suddenly his classes doubled in size, and his classes now had half girls! Robert knew no limit to the number of friends he could make.  Robert continued with his same interests in Humanities and sports that began at Landon.  He ran cross-country and track.  He was a varsity track Captain, and won the track team Patriots Award for his sportsmanship.  Robert was a "Planner" all four years.  He was in the Senior Planner class, a group of busy dedicated students who organized all the fund-raising and events at school, such as talent shows, picnics, proms, and graduations. Robert was a Supertonic!  The Supertonics being the all-male a capella singing group. Robert joined the Wootton Signature Humanities and Art diploma program.  He earned the Meritorious Distinction for the Humanities and Arts, graduating with honors in the Class of 2008.

Robert was confirmed at Christ Episcopal Church in Spring 2005. Through high school Robert served the church as an acolyte, and continued to sing with the adult choir or accompany them on viola on holidays.

Robert went to Greece with Wootton as part of his Humanities program in 2005.  In 2006 Robert went to China with his family.  Robert climbed the Great Wall. Robert even bumped into a Wootton classmate while walking through the Emperor's School at the Summer Palace in Beijing!

In parallel to regular school, Robert was always in an orchestra, playing violin or viola.  His first orchestra was Potomac Valley Youth Orchestra, grades 2-4.  Next Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra, grades 5-8.  Finally Robert played for the Peabody Sinfonietta, under Conductor Gene Young, for grades 9-12.  Robert was Principal Violist. After all the music Robert had under his belt, Robert still says the Peabody Preparatory Institute, in Baltimore, Maryland, taught him to play with attention to quality.  He studied with Louise Hildreth-Grasso and Phyllis Freeman at Peabody.  Robert attended an Orchestra music programs at New England Conservatory in Boston in summer 2006, and a chamber music at Meadowmount School of Music in northern NY in summer 2007, and the National Philharmonic chamber music program in Bethesda, MD in summer 2008.


Robert attended Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa for freshman and sophomore years. The college is 20 miles from where his grandfather, Robert Giger, was born, and where his Giger ancestors homesteaded in the 1850s. Robert lived in Rose Hall, joined the Track and Ultimate Frisbee teams, and was a member of the all-male a capella singing ensemble, the G-Tones.

Robert declared Music as his major, the day before his fatal injury. On May 14, 2010, Robert was pole vaulting for Grinnell College at the NCAA Midwest Division III Track & Field Championships at Illinois College, in Jacksonville, Illinois. He slid off the mat, then hit his head, causing a brain hemorrhage. Robert was declared brain dead on May 17, 2010, at age 20, at the Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Illinois.

Robert's heart, two lungs, liver, two kidneys, and pancreas were donated and successfully transplanted to five people.  Five people, who once had life-threatening conditions, were given renewed health and a second chance with their lives by Robert's gift.

One thousand people came to Robert's viewing and funeral mass at Christ Episcopal Church on May 29, 2010.
"Honesty and Genuineness" is the title of an essay Robert wrote in February 2010 in which he describes his values.  Here is an excerpt:
"I believe living with Honesty and Genuineness leads to a happy and healthy life...

"It's simple. Be honest and genuine in all of your actions with your friends and families. Even those who are strangers to you...

"Why would someone try to be dishonest and fake? I am trying to address that little part of you, when you might find it easier to cheat others, and ultimately yourself, of that tiny little insignificant thing that surely no one will care about...

"Being able to connect with people is so much easier when you are truly honest with them. It helps differentiate with whom you truly are friends, and allows for many a happy relationship...

"Show everyone around you your true self. Live by your beliefs... 

"Because letting falseness into your life only creates a chance of hurting yourself or someone close to you. If you try to live like this, everything will seem to be clearer and brighter. Being sincere in all aspects of your life, brings about a clarity that allows you to appreciate everything for what it is, and not manipulating it into something where it just satisfies your needs. I am in no way, a perfectly honest and genuine person, but I believe that by trying to continually live by these standards, I will create a better life for myself and those around me."

Thank you, Robert!  We miss you, Robert.

Visit often as we will add older videos and photos...

His early years are not that long ago

Wootton High School


Meadowmount School of Music, Westport, NY


Thank you, Robert!  We love you, Robert.