After Scholastic CEO's Sudden Death, Family Left Blindsided When Left Out of Will: 'Shocking'

·3 min read
Richard Robinson
Richard Robinson

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock Richard "Dick" Robinson Jr.

The family of late Scholastic Inc. CEO M. Richard "Dick" Robinson Jr. was reportedly left "shocked" by his will and succession plan for the major book publishing company.

Robinson died unexpectedly on June 5 at age 84. His father had founded the company — now known for hot commodities in the book world like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and Captain Underpants — and Robinson spent 46 years as CEO and chairman, working "full time until the moment of his death," as his obituary states.

He has two sons, John Benham "Ben" Robinson, 34, and Maurice "Reece" Robinson, 25, with ex-wife Helen Benham, whom he recently became close to again before his death.

In the wake of Robinson's sudden death, the family —including his siblings — was reportedly surprised to find that his will left his personal possessions and control of the $1.2 billion company to chief strategy officer Iole Lucchese, according to the Wall Street Journal.

For more on the succession for Scholastic following M. Richard Robinson Jr.'s death and other top stories, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

The outlet reports that the will was drafted in 2018 and that he and Lucchese, 54, were believed to have been romantically involved.

PEOPLE has reached out to Scholastic for comment.

Benham told WSJ that the revelations of the will "served as salt in an open wound," while Reece agreed it was "unexpected and shocking" and added, "You might think from the will that he didn't see his sons. That's not true. For the last two years, I saw him multiple times a week."

RELATED: Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates Finalize Divorce — and She's Keeping His Last Name

Richard Robinson, Iole Lucchese
Richard Robinson, Iole Lucchese

Beowulf Sheehan/PEN America M. Richard Robinson Jr. and Iole Lucchese

Want to get the biggest stories from PEOPLE every weekday? Subscribe to our new podcast, PEOPLE Every Day, to get the essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news stories Monday through Friday.

Benham and Robinson divorced in 2003, according to WSJ, and she had worked for Scholastic for more than 30 years, even sitting on the board at one point in time. She told the outlet, "I lived and breathed Scholastic while also raising our two children. Dick told me on more than one occasion, 'You care more about Scholastic than I do.' "

"I was shocked and we were not expecting this," Benham added of the will's outcome.

According to Lucchese's bio, she is now chair of the board, executive vice president, chief strategy officer and president of Scholastic Entertainment. Born in Toronto, she has been with the company for 30 years and has "consistently led innovative efforts to deepen connections with and better support teachers, families, young readers, and other consumers, while expanding access to Scholastic content around the world."

One former Scholastic employee told WSJ of Lucchese, "Iole has a point of view and she shares it. I admire the fact that women leadership spoke freely and candidly and it seemed to me, in the opportunities I had to be a part of those meetings, that was encouraged."