Martha June Robinson
July 16, 1927 – April 9, 2019
Martha June Robinson, beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, died peacefully at her home in Longmont, Colorado, on April 9, 2019, surrounded by her family. She was 91 years old. She was born in Danville, Virginia, on July 16, 1927, to the late Clifton Hedley and Mattie Virginia Dodson. June, as she preferred to be called, remained attached to her roots and never lost the mild, sweet southern accent that charmed everyone she met. If she ever called you “darlin,’” you were comforted-- and never forgot her.
June’s father Clifton worked as a buyer for R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, traveling through the south as the crops came in and selecting a variety of tobacco grades for the company. South Boston in southern Virginia was the heart of tobacco country, but the red soil also produced fantastic vegetables. Clifton kept a large garden which sustained the family year-round with preserved vegetables. These were always eaten with fried cornbread--made exclusively with buttermilk—on the side. June’s childhood favorites were the tiny southern lima beans called butter beans, stewed tomatoes, and a variety of white sweet corn called “Country Gentleman.” Before her marriage, June’s mother Mattie had been a nurse at Garfield Memorial Hospital in Washington D.C., caring for victims of the Spanish flu during World War I. She and her sister, beloved Aunt Theo (or “Doshie,” for Theodosia), were fine seamstresses and made most of June’s beautiful clothes. June may be seen wearing one such hand-made white polka-dot dress in one of the attached photographs. June and her brother Hedley attended school in South Boston, Virginia. She graduated early at 16 from C. H. Friend High School and attended the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, in the cadet nursing program. After graduation she worked as a registered nurse in South Boston before relocating to Denver, Colorado, and Denver General Hospital, where she met an intern named Benjamin Earl Robinson, formerly of Longmont. Ben later completed a medical residency in ophthalmology in Chicago.
The couple was married on November 8, 1952, in Cambridge, England, where Dr. Robinson was stationed as part of a medical group. During his recovery from a serious illness, Ben and June traveled to the continent and spent a memorable time at the beach in Allasio on the Italian Riviera, where June discovered she was pregnant. She learned to love “Orangina,” the French sparkling orange drink, which was the only beverage she could keep down during spells of morning sickness. The couple traveled through a Europe still scarred by the world war.
They eventually settled in Urbana, Illinois. An air force captain, Dr. Robinson had been assigned to Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, Illinois, and during that period, joined the eye department of the Carle Clinic in nearby Urbana as an ophthalmologist. His practice grew with the clinic, and he worked at Carle for 28 years. As the family grew, they occupied three different homes on G.H. Baker Drive in north Urbana in a beautiful small subdivision called Timber Hills by the Urbana Country Club. The couple raised five children in Urbana: Thomas Dalton, Mary McMillan, Neal Vaden, Barbara Ellen, and Robert Dugald. These were happy years and prosperous years. Whatever her children were involved in interested their mother, from tennis to swimming to musical performances to fishing, ice skating and games of cards. Throughout their childhood, June read to her children and raised a family of avid readers. Her kids inherited her talent for expression and humor. Neal was especially gifted in this way, and kept the family laughing. His remarkable musical talents also made the family home a place of music. Ben was a guitar player with a wonderful tenor voice. He invited his musical friends to join in, and folk songs from that era are still special favorites of the family. June always regretted that she could not carry a tune, but she loved the music as much as anyone.
Among the neighborhood children, June was famous for her homemade bread and her insistence on rolling up her daughters’ hair in curlers on Saturday night in preparation for church on Sunday. A small cottage on a chain of lakes called “The Pollywogs” offered fishing in summer and winter, and a chance to explore the woods. The family home in Timber Hills had an extra lot, which was a wonderful playground for children. There was also a large finished basement where kids could romp and play ping pong during the cold winter months. The hill behind the house made for great sledding in an otherwise flat country. June welcomed all children to her home.
The family took vacations in these years to Virginia to visit their southern kin, to Colorado to visit Ben’s mother Mary, to Yellowstone National Park where they camped and fished, and to Florida, which became an increasingly attractive destination to Ben and Tom, who ultimately started a charter fishing business in Naples which continues to this day. Ben loved deep sea fishing with Tom, but not every member of the family had their sea legs, including June, who preferred walking on beaches and enjoying the fresh catch of the day. June was a woman of strong faith, an ardent Christian, and she was an example of courage to her family as she nursed Ben through his final illness in 1981. Her years as a member of the First Baptist Church in Urbana, as well as her fellowship with like-minded Christians in Illinois and Colorado, remained at the center of her life. She traveled to eastern Europe on behalf of her fellowship and made friends across the globe in support of their missions.
After Ben Robinson’s death, June moved to Longmont to occupy the Robinson family home, where she continued to make many friends and to host family get-togethers for her children. June was an active person. She walked whenever she could and loved the old neighborhoods of Longmont with their beautiful trees and shady parks. She attended exercise classes at the senior center on a regular basis where she made a whole new set of friends. She loved the mountains and hiking and picnicking in Rocky Mountain National Park. She overcame her fear of water and rode an inner tube down the St. Vrain River one memorable afternoon. In 1992 she hiked the southern-most section of the Colorado Trail, putting in more than one twenty-mile day, and surprising herself. She also loved visiting her children across the country and the globe. She traveled around China with her daughter, Barbara, a true adventure under primitive conditions that produced many great stories. June was a wonderful storyteller and kept her audience in stitches with her description of a night-time invasion of their hotel room by—rats! She returned several times in style to Hong Kong in the years when Barbara became established in the film industry, even attending the Oscars with Barbara when a Chinese film that she had produced was nominated for ten Academy Awards. She made many friends in Hong Kong, Taiwan and China and adopted Barbara’s pet Boxers as her own. June also loved returning to the South where her son Bob, a neurosurgeon in Birmingham, and his wife Leslie raised their family. Southern specialties, like Brunswick Stew and spoon bread, will forever delight her children. She spent happy times in Cody, Wyoming, where her daughter Mary works as the director of a research library in the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Mary and her husband Richard kept horses and a white mule that June called “girlie,” her special favorite. Richard’s career as a backcountry ranger for the National Park Service created many opportunities to see remote parts of Yellowstone and its amazing wildlife.
June also made regular trips to Urbana to reconnect with her son, Neal, in the music profession, and with old friends in her fellowship and from the Baptist church. Bob went to college in Colorado and, like his father, attended medical school in Denver. June was proud of all her children and welcomed her grandchildren: Halie, Benjamin, Dylan, McClain and Macey. In recent years, she became a proud great-grandmother to Halie’s girls, Eleanor and Evelyn, who live on a farm in Iowa. June is survived by her five children: Thomas of Naples, Florida; Mary (Richard) of Cody, Wyoming; Neal of Longmont; Barbara of Los Angeles; and Robert (Leslie) of Birmingham; her niece Lucy (Virgil), nephew Cliff, and several great-nieces and nephews in her southern family. In addition to her parents, June was preceded in death by her brother, Hedley, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, his wife Alice, and two of their children, Paul and Martha.
The family plans a private service for June later in the year in Columbiana, Alabama, where the Robinson family members are buried. Memorial contributions may be made to Halcyon Hospice & Palliative Care (P.O. Box 177, Mead, CO 80542-0177), to the Wounded Warrior Project or to the Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Please continue scrolling down the page past the remembrances to view a few special pictures.
- No local services will be held
Martha June Robinson
April 17, 2019
Although I met June later in life at Senior exercise, I was privileged to be one of her "darlins". We were an unlikely pair as I am "several" years younger but we had a wonderful and cherished relationship that I will miss with all my heart. Love you, June.
April 14, 2019
Oh, we will miss June so much—we hold her so dear in our hearts. When Bert and I lived next door on 4th Ave. in Longmont we were so blessed to have her there! We’ve kept the sweet little white sweater with the kangaroo on it given to our son, Lucas, now 17 years old. After we moved to Washington state she continued to stay in touch with my mom and dad and was such a support and friend for my father after my mother past away. The whole family has been so gracious with their friendship with my father and I know he will miss her presence in his life and those many shared meals together.
Her kind and gentle presence will never be forgotten and we all feel so blessed to have known this special and caring woman.
With much love for June and much love for the entire family,
Desiree, Bert, and Lucas,—and Don
April 13, 2019
June Robinson was a wonderful friend and a force of nature in the neighborhood. She loved her family, her friends, and her community. She was a great deal of fun and she did a lot to establish a strong bond in our neighborhood. She was so loved and respected, and she will be missed
April 13, 2019
Chris and I met June through Mary years ago in Urbana. As time went by, we became friends of June and communicated with her regularly through the internet. When our daughter had to move to Denver to go to Graduate School, June kindly let us stay at her house while we were looking for an aparment in Denver. After a couple of unfruitful search days and only one more day left before we had to fly back home, we came back to June's in the evening pretty hopeless. At dinner, June held our hands and prayed the Lord to help us find something. The following day, the last place we visited was a go .
June was an example of an unshakable faith and boundless kindness. Somehow, we felt she would go on forever, but God had other plans for her. She will be dearly missed.
April 12, 2019
I got to 'know' Mrs June Robinson through a weekly teleconference forum of which she participated in constantly, except when she traveled to visit with her children and family. One could sense/tell of her great selfless love for others, her sacrifice, gentleness, compassion and her deep faith and commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. It was a truly personal blessing to eventually meet with her physically at the funeral for the transition of another dearly beloved son of God. Her life is a testimony to the goodness of God and she carried in her, the love of the Almighty Father which copiously flowed out unto others. It is a great comfort to know she is with her Lord and Saviour and this is praying that God will comfort her children, grand- and great-grandchildren as well as other members of her extended family in a way He alone, the Great Comforter, can. Sleep well, Martha June Robinson: your works and legacy in and through Christ Jesus do abide and follow you.
April 11, 2019
June Robinson was a sweet soul that showed me what a kind, loving heart looked like. I can truly say she was and will always be one of my favorite people I've had the pleasure of knowing. June inspired me to keep my faith in God alive.
May God bless her family with peace, comfort, and unity at this time of sorrow.
April 10, 2019
June Robinson was a strong and mighty woman of God. Her love for my family was immeasurable and she will never be forgotten by the Westfall's. Her selflessness and compassion is a powerful testament to everyone that had the great pleasure of knowing her.
Dear sweet June, I know you are resting peacefully in the arms of your heavenly father.
All my love.
Mary ann Westfall
April 10, 2019
I have had the honor of knowing June for over 30 years. She was the most selfless, loving, kind woman of faith I’ve ever known. She put herself last and everyone else first.
A saint has truly entered the gates of heaven.
Rest well sister June.