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Kenyon mourns Annie Robinson

Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013

Updated: Thursday, September 12, 2013 15:09

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Courtesy of Special Collection and Archives

Annie Robinson and her husband, Jefferson “Jeff” Robinson ’49, pose outside an Old Kenyon event circa 1980.

 

Anne “Annie” Kilbourne Jeffrey Robinson, a fixture of the Kenyon community, died at the age of 85 on Sept. 2. Known to most as Annie, she was born in Columbus on June 10, 1928, and began her association with Kenyon when she married Jefferson “Jeff” Robinson III ’49 in 1948. Jeff predeceased his wife in 2011.

Annie, who graduated from Endicott Junior College in Massachusetts, loved Kenyon dearly although she wasn’t a Kenyon alum herself, her friends and family said.

“She really believed in the educational pursuit, even though getting an advanced degree wasn’t the thing to do at the time she lived in,” said the Rev. Canon Mark Robinson ’81, her son. “She was a great grammarian and a voracious reader. She had a wonderful wit and used a lot of literary puns.”

The Robinsons made Gambier their permanent home starting in 1978, when Jeff Robinson became Kenyon’s director of alumni affairs.

community, and traveled with Professor of English and Kenyon Review editor David Lynn ’76 during an alumni association trip to Italy. “The Robinsons were indefatigable. They were cheery, positive, engaged, but also perfectly independent and willing to go off on their own if that was what was called for,” Lynn said.

“She was a great lady in the old-fashioned sense. She was about the most delightful person I ever met,” Professor of Humanities Tim Shutt, who knew Annie since his boyhood, said. Shutt described the Robinson house on Quarry Chapel Road, a converted barn, as exquisite.

“She had a keen eye [for design],” Mark Robinson said. “She could see if something was off by an eighth of an inch.”

Annie opened up her home to many — including members of Delta Kappa Epsilon (DKE), her husband and son’s former fraternity. “I think of Jeff and Annie, arm-in-arm, marching the DKEs down Middle Path, singing their fraternity songs, all the way from the lodge down to Old Kenyon,” said Scott Baker, the current director of alumni and parent programs. “It was such a great sight.”

“She and Jeff certainly were wonderful shepherds to many of the young Kenyon men, especially perhaps those who tended to go astray,” said Cornelia “Buffy” Hallinan ’76, who lived across the street from the Robinsons.

Sewell Robinson ’12 emphasized her grandmother’s sociable nature. When Sewell attended Kenyon, she went out to dinner with her grandparents each week. Annie stipulated that Sewell bring a new friend each time. “My grandmother loved meeting new people and getting new perspectives,” she said.

These dinners often took place at the Kenyon Inn, where Annie merited a special table. Patrons can order her favorite dessert, known as the “Annie,” which is a scoop of chocolate ice cream topped with a shot of Tia Maria.

An adventurous woman, Annie adored the coast of Maine and swimming in frigid water. She parasailed in her 70s and used her iPad up until the day before she died. She read voraciously and did the crossword in pen.

“She never met a discussion that she was not involved in,” Mark Robinson said. “She was up-to-date on Syria. She was up to date on contemporary political issues.”

Annie, along with her husband, had a definite sense of what was right and wrong for Kenyon. “You always knew where they stood on things,” said Lisa Schott ’80, who succeeded Jeff Robinson as director of alumni affairs. “Sometimes we even felt maybe a little bit differently about things, but … I just always felt like they really cared about me.”

The Robinsons earned the Distinguished Service Award from the College’s Alumni Council and the Thomas B. and Mary M. Greenslade Award for their work as preeminent representatives of the College.

In addition to her son Mark and her granddaughter Sewell, Annie’s granddaughters Virginia Secor Shaw ’98 and Caroline Secor Masterson ’02 attended Kenyon.

“We always knew we would get Kenyon gear for Christmas,” Sewell Robinson said. “My grandmother really felt that Kenyon was the best institution in the world.”

Memorial contributions may be made to the Jefferson and Anne Robinson Scholarship Fund, Kenyon College, Gambier, OH 43022, or Hospice of Central OH, P.O. Box 430, Newark, OH 43058.Even after Jeff Robinson’s retirement in 1988, the couple continued to be active members in the

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