Lorayne Adele Riemer Robinson - aka Lori, Rayne, Rae, Rob, Mother, Gramma Rob, Gram or Gigi - passed away September 22, 2018, surrounded by family at her home in South Pasadena where she had lived for almost 50 years.
Born July 28, 1925, in Beloit, Wisconsin, to Lola and Henry (Bing) Sperry, the first half of her life was one of adventure and the stuff of good stories; the latter of giving to others.
She spent most of her childhood with her mother and her aunt and uncle, Ethyl and Max Edelstein, an Army officer who led several Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps. She held many memories of mess hall holidays and official drivers who taught her to fish, shoot a gun and drive. Also part of her formative years were summers spent on Lake Namakogan in northern Wisconsin, the location of many of her stories, including hearing and then seeing the immediate aftermath of a famous Chicago gangster shootout. It was also there that she met her first husband Bill Davidson, who she eloped with at age 16 following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
During the war, while her husband was overseas, she was a “Rosie the Riveter,” putting her ability to read blueprints to work at Norton Air Base in California, leading a crew of men charged with wing conversions on the P-38 fighter. At the end of the war, after a brief reunion, her husband returned to Chicago to be close to family, the young marriage over.
She remained on the West Coast, and remarried, to Wilburn Odell (W.O.) Robinson, during a (very) early morning New Year’s Day wedding in Las Vegas, settling in the foothills outside of Los Angeles as they started their family. Their neighbors were early Hollywood stars, and in later years she would mention a small personal tidbit here or there when seeing someone on TV, even casually revealing that she’d attended an early Academy Awards ceremony. But most of her focus was on her three children - Kay, Jo and Gary - who she blessed with a wonderful childhood.
The family moved to Warner Robins, Georgia, in the mid-60s, as W.O. took a position with Robins Air Force Base. Shortly thereafter began the caregiving that would define the second half of her life, as she nursed first her mother, then her aunt, then her husband through various illnesses and, ultimately, their deaths.
A widow at 45, she moved to a little island in South Pasadena, Florida, somewhat on a whim, with most of her family following at some point over the years, and many actually living with her at one point or another. An independent spirit from the beginning, she often said she got her “running off and getting married” out of the way early, and never married again, instead focusing on her family, most notably as a long-term caregiver for her son and grandson, who both precede her in death.
We will all remember her love of being outside, watching the water and sky change, the dolphins jump, and the birds fly by. We will remember her cooking - especially her orange/pink/peach “stuff” - and the cookbooks she made each of us so we can try to recreate those special dishes. We will remember her sweet tooth (and wish she hadn’t passed it down). We will remember the gifts she gave us, from “Key West” fabric quilts and pillows to bedtime stories and lessons on life both big and small. (Take time watch the world go by. Oleo is margarine, butter is butter and there’s never enough. There’s no reason not to eat dessert with dinner. Apple pie without cheese is like a hug without a squeeze.) Most of all, we’ll remember the time she gave us all, sitting, swinging and really listening to the stories of our daily lives, and giving us the gift of sharing her own.
She was preceded in death by her son Gary Robinson and grandson Trevor Robinson, as well as many exceedingly over-loved dogs. She is survived by a large family: daughters and sons-in-law Kay and Terry Farner and Jo and Russ Childers; grandchildren Tripp Childers (Robyn), Kay Childers Clark (Brian), Brandon Robinson (Megan), Ryan Farner (Jessica) and Kevin Farner; and great-grandchildren Jackson and William Childers, Tynan and Vivian Clark, Wyatt and Wesley Robinson, and Cole Farner.
A service in her memory will be held Monday, October 1, at 10 a.m., at Brett Funeral Home in St. Petersburg. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Suncoast Hospice Foundation, SPCA of Tampa Bay or the Alzheimer’s Association.