Island Cremations & Funeral Home ~ Merritt Island, Florida ~ 321-454-3331

Obituaries

CAROL COLLINS ROBINSON

April 17, 1924 - October 10, 2020

A celebration of life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on October 31st at Riviera United Church of Christ located at 451 Riviera Drive NE, Palm Bay, FL 32905. We were hoping for All Saints Day, but, apparently, that day is already taken. Carol will be interred next to Mac, at Arlington National Cemetery in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. To share a memory of Carol or send a note to her family, please visit https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10219840735111199&set=a.1165550101318

Carol Collins Robinson

April 17th, 1924 – October 10th, 2020

 

After 96 and almost exactly one-half years of life lived to the absolute fullest Carol Collins “Skeeter” Robinson passed away on the 10th of October 2020, besting her elder sister Janice at one last competition.

 

An innately curious child, Carol was born on Maundy Thursday of 1924 to teacher and suffragette Catherine Louise “Dorothy” Pierson Collins and surveyor Willard Lester Collins in West Orange, New Jersey. She acquired the nickname “Skeeter” from a neighbor because she asked a lot of questions. Carol studied the violin as a child, often joining in rousing duets with Janice, who played the cello. Voted “least freckled” by her childhood friends, she received comments about her enviable epidermis throughout her life.

 

A seeker of truth and collector of knowledge, she left behind an extensive collection of books and paper files, which she instructed her adult children not to part with before flipping through on the off chance that someone placed money in their pages. This request was likely a ploy to get us to read her books as, to-date, only about 1,100 Japanese yen (about $11 USD) have been found.

 

As a teenager, she attended West Orange Senior High School, where she painted “seams” on her legs (hose were hard to come by in wartime) and broke many a heart, including a particularly eager young fellow whom her mother called “poor George.” It is today and was then a well-known fact that Carol dreamed of sailing a “tramp steamer” around the world, so the Georges would have to wait. But that didn’t stop her from having some fun. On weekends, she ventured into New York City with girlfriends to ride the escalators at Macy’s, as, in those days, they had dapper young ushers charged with helping their more delicate customers disembark. It was during this time that Carol attended the 1939 New York World’s Fair with a fellow named Walter, who was smitten by this 5’5” blue-eyed beauty, but Carol had other plans (poor Walter).

 

Carol rode the bus to Montclair State Teacher’s College, in New Jersey, where she played in the orchestra, sang in an a cappella choir, and completed an undergraduate degree in social sciences and geography just as WWII came to an end in 1945. She was a member of Kappa Delta Pi honorary educational fraternity, an honorary member of Sigma Xi honorary science fraternity, and listed in the 1944 edition of “Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.”

 

During the summers of 1943, 1944, and 1945, she ventured out to California to volunteer as a lookout on fire towers watching for Japanese fu-gos, which were not, in fact, easily enraged manga characters but rather hydrogen-fueled incendiary balloons that rode the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean to cause havoc in the U. S., Canada, and Mexico. Highlights of her summers in the west included that time she shot a rattlesnake, bonding with her Uncle Calvin (also a violinist), and climbing Mt. Shasta in borrowed hiking boots, twice. On her way back east one summer, she stopped to hike the Grand Canyon and accepted a tank ride from a handsome young military officer named Neil. No, she didn’t marry Neil (poor Neil). There were too many adventures left to be had, such as sewing the fabric wings of bi-planes to pay for flight lessons and earn her pilot’s license.

 

In 1947, Carol collected a masters degree in geography from Northwestern University in Illinois. It was here she met a promising young photographer named Fred, whom she cared for deeply but also did not marry as he disappeared one semester without even saying goodbye. After graduation and on the rebound, she agreed to marry a fellow geographer named Jack. Then Fred returned from a secret government mission (yes, really) to find that his true love had promised herself to another (poor Fred). The truly unfortunate nature of this turn of events became clear when Jack showed Carol his dark side (and a set brass knuckles) on their wedding night.

 

Not one to quit and run, Carol swallowed her regrets and dug into post-graduate studies at the Institute of Latin American Studies in Chicago (1947-48), Pennsylvania State University’s College of Agriculture (1954), the University of Pittsburgh (1954-55), and the Language School of the American Embassy in Tokyo, Japan (1956-57). As a professional geographer and cartographer, Carol worked with Northwestern’s Department of Geography (1945-47), Encyclopedia Britannica, the U.S. Army G-2  Intelligence Division (1951 – 52), Rand McNally & Company (1947-50 and 1952-53), the Land & Exploration Division of Gulf Oil Corporation (1953-56), U.S. Army Map Service (Tokyo, 1957), the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Pittsburgh (1957 – 58). She received two commendations for her work with the U.S. Army in 1951 and 1952. She is credited in the Goodes’ World Atlas, 9th and 10th editions, as well as the Caribbean section of the Latin American Handbook, 1947 edition, as well as numerous other educational and commercial atlases, reference books, textbooks, pamphlets, and wall charts.

 

Her research studies included analyses of terrain and land use, agricultural production, air transportation patterns, urbanization, housing and population, natural resources, and more. Professional society affiliations included: Association of American Geographers, American Geographical Society, The Geographical Society of Japan, The Geography Club of Western Pennsylvania, The Society of Student Geographers (Northwestern), and the Regional Science Association.

 

For ten years, Carol muscled through her troubled first marriage, which included two stints in Japan working for the U.S. government. After a particularly brutal night in Tokyo, two friends secreted her away to the airport, where she caught a flight to the U.S. Back home, Carol found a research job at the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank, was excommunicated from the Episcopalian church for divorcing Jack (their loss), and applied to a PhD program at North Carolina State. That winter, skinny but recovering her spirit, she sent Christmas cards to her old friends from Northwestern. One of the recipients was a handsome young Marine named Malcolm Emerson “Mac” Robinson.

 

Mac wrote back to say that his lovely wife, a mutual friend named Anna Claire Crist, had recently died and he was struggling to raise their young son Douglas on his own. Several letters and phone calls later, they got together. Asked when she knew that it was true love, Carol recalled a time when Mac took her dancing and gazed into her eyes as they spun around the dance floor. The two, or should we say three (as little Douglas appears in all the wedding photos), were married in a small ceremony on November 25, 1960. Carol wore a stunning, hand-tailored blue satin dress, size zero.

 

The happy triple set up house in Maryland. Carol was accepted to the PhD program in North Carolina but gave up the opportunity, opting instead for the mad adventure of raising a family. Over the next few years, Glenn, Nancy, and Ronald were welcomed into the world with great fanfare and cloth diapers. The 60s and 70s passed in a love-filled whirlwind of homemade cherry pies with lattice crusts, Dutch apple pies with mouthwatering crumb toppings, canned jams and jellies, holiday feasts, birthday cakes, and stare-downs with young children over peas and spinach and homework. Getaways included camping and hiking trips, beach weekends in Ocean City, road trips across the western U.S., and station wagon excursions over the river and through the woods to visit the grandparents as well as Janice and her brood.

 

Carol volunteered as a Cub Scout den mother and worked extensively as a leader, organizer, and trainer with The Nation’s Capital Girl Scout Council from 1961-1976. When she wasn’t scouting, she was managing music and ballet lessons, hosting foreign exchange students, throwing fab cocktail parties with friends and Pentagon colleagues, and counseling troubled teens at the Cedar Knoll Youth Detention Center. Carol was up for a promotion to head girl scout when Mac accepted an early retirement package and moved the family to Indialantic, Florida, where his elderly mother (Edna Holland Robinson aka “Grammie”) resided.

 

But who had time for lounging on the beach with a house full of angsty teenagers? Between teenage dramas, she leveraged her first-hand experience with abuse as a volunteer at the local women’s shelter, played the violin with the Brevard Symphony Orchestra (1979 and 1980), studied Suzuki violin method and became a private violin instructor. Things swam along relatively nicely until 1984.

 

Within a three-month time frame, Carol lost her mother-in-law, her father, and Mac, who died of leukemia on father’s day of 1984. That summer, she cleared out her parent’s home in New Jersey and moved her mother to Florida; Dorothy passed away the following summer. After so much loss Carol would have been justified in throwing herself a pity party with millions of tiny violins. Pity was never her thing, but violins were. After a traveling to Europe with a family friend (on an airplane, not a steamship), she helped start the Brevard Youth Symphony Orchestra (BSYO) and continued teaching private lessons to a beloved stream of adorable students well into her 80s. As if that weren’t enough, she also became the historian for the local Congregational church (now Riviera United Church of Christ), and started a cold night shelter, which has eased the burden for hundreds of forgotten souls, much to the chagrin of local socialites.

 

Known as “Grams” to her grandchildren, Carol accepted that she couldn’t right all of society’s wrongs, but, gosh darn it, she tried. She responded to direct mail pleas with money, leaving behind millions of address labels and calendars as proof of her generosity. Ever looking for the bright side, Carol liked the color yellow because it represents hope, admired RBG, supported the Sierra Club, worried about the earth’s natural resources, and once cussed to see what it would feel like. She was a Trivial Pursuit legend, believed in the Oxford comma, liked to share her crossword puzzles, but kept sudokus for herself.

 

Bookstore gift cards were her favorite gifts as her reading knew no bounds. She read extensively about geography, sociology, world history, racial injustice, sailing ships, philosophy and religion, earth and space, healthcare and medicine, and books her kids found interesting on a range of subjects including pirates, psychology, marketing, writing, and travel. She frequently had several books going at once and often neatly penciled notes in the margins. She loved all of her books equally, however an Oliver Sachs collection held a special place on her bookshelf.

 

So let’s all raise a bowl of Publix “Party Time” or Barney’s coffee ice cream (her two faves) to a one-in-a-million, blue-eyed lady who did all she could do in and for the world. In lieu of flowers or donations, Carol left no specific instructions, but we think she might like it if you did something nice for another human being, planted a tree, cleaned up a beach, saved a sea turtle, or just went for a hike.

 

Carol’s remaining earthbound family includes her children:

  • Douglas Crist Robinson & May Fong Robinson
  • Glenn Collins Robinson & Laura Whitcomb
  • Nancy Holland Hellmrich & Marcus Jon Hellmrich
  • Ronald Pierson Robinson & Donna Marie Robinson

 

Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren:

  • Kasi Marie Spradlin & Jared Spradlin
  • Kasi & Jared’s children Braelyn and Kaydence Spradlin
  • Hana Robinson McMullin & Micah McMullin
  • Hana & Micah’s children Malia, Makana, and Tia McMullin
  • Spencer Russell Robinson & Arian Robinson
  • Vladislav Robinson
  • Harley Summer Nichole Robinson
  • Rachel Jane Marie Robinson

 

And her sister Janice’s children and grandchildren:

  • The Reverend Mark West & LuAnn West
  • Mark & LuAnn’s children Jonathan West and Kate & Lang Leichhardt
  • Kate & Lang’s children: Leonel, Dolly, and Florence
  • Jeffrey West & Denise Zabkievicz
  • Susan West & Timothy Wycoff
  • Susan & Tim’s children Isaac Wycoff & Brandilyn Wycoff and Olivia Wycoff
  • Carol Elizabeth West
  • Margaret Ann West