Thursday, November 15, 2012

Life sketch in memory of my father

Ken Robinson life sketch
By Christy K. Robinson

Kenneth L. Robinson, 77, died Monday, Oct. 1, 2012, at Christ the King Manor's clinic in DuBois, Pennsylvania, with his wife Susanne and their pastors at his side.

Born Feb. 11, 1935, in a log house on a farm in northern Minnesota, he was the fifth child of the late Leonard Robinson and Lorna Opal Carter Robinson. He was the direct descendant of Rev. John Robinson, pastor to the Mayflower Pilgrims, and many of his ancestors were Revolutionary and Civil War veterans. His father served in World War I. On his mother’s side, he had a 200-year history of ancestors in the Seventh-day Baptist denomination.

Kenneth Robinson was married to his first wife, Judith Anson Robinson, for 38 years until her death in January 1993. They met at the Covenant Church youth group in International Falls, Minnesota, in 1953, were married in 1955, and moved to Phoenix, Arizona in late 1956 for Judith's health. They bought a house in 1958 and lived there for 25 years, enjoying the suburban American dream.

In 1964, Ken and Judith joined the Glendale Adventist church by profession of faith, and enrolled their children, Christy and Brian, in the Christian school there. Ken and Judith were active in the church and school social activities. In 1974, the family joined the Phoenix Central church and stayed there for two decades. After Judith died from severe asthma complications, he moved his church membership to Paradise Valley, near his home. He was very appreciative of the fellowship and the music program at Paradise Valley church, and loved the pastors dearly.

While taking night classes in business at Phoenix College, Ken had worked as a salesman for Pepsico, Montgomery Ward, and a dairy co-op. He was so efficient and effective at Pepsico that the company sent time and motion study experts to track him on his route.

Ken was owner of Robinson Distributing Co. of Phoenix, Ariz., for 40 years. Judith set up the corporation and did the accounting and business details, including the personal and corporate taxes (as did Christy for several years), while Ken and his independent contractors provided dairy and frozen foods deliveries to restaurants, institutions, and small markets from Tonopah to Apache Junction. He trained his son Brian to the business, and they worked together for several years before Brian started up for himself.

In 1984, Judith and Ken put their first home up for rent and bought a larger home in Dreamy Draw, where Judith continued to teach piano lessons and paint award-winning portraits, and, with Christy, managed the business affairs for the home and business.

In the same year that Judith died, 1993, Ken was diagnosed with prostate cancer, and it was treated unsuccessfully for the next 15 years, after which it metastasized. He met Susanne Wilson Prontock at a home Bible study, and married her in October 1993, in the back yard of his home.

In 2006, Ken and Susanne sold the Phoenix home and purchased a condo in her home town of DuBois, Pennsylvania, where they lived for seven months of each year, but wintered for five months back in Phoenix in Susanne’s patio house. In Pennsylvania, they had many friends, and attended the Treasure Lake Interdenominational Church in DuBois, as well as the Laurel Lake Adventist Church. He belonged to a men's prayer group, the Phoenix Art Museum, and the Kaiser-Frazer Car Club. He was an avid reader and loved flower gardening, as well as restoration and parade-showing of his 1954 Kaiser Manhattan car.

Ken began writing a historical novel, "Dough Boy," the fictional adventures of his father and uncles as young men in early-twentieth-century Iowa and Minnesota. He enjoyed reading about history, and loved talking with his friends from his youth in Minnesota. Christy tracked down his Covenant Church pastor and set up a telephone reunion for them, a few months before Ken died.

Ken had several surgeries and procedures to place radiation seeds, to remove a colon cancer tumor, to remove melanoma lesions from his face and arms, and other surgeries he refused to discuss. When his bone cancer worsened, he was offered hospice care but Susanne believed it better to keep him in the nursing center. He died there on October 1, 2012.

He is survived by a daughter, Christy Robinson, a son and daughter-in-law, Brian and Stacey Robinson of Phoenix, Ariz.; and three grandchildren, Erica, Jacob, and Rachel Robinson. Brian's son, Jacob Kenneth Robinson, is the father of a year-old boy, making Ken a great-grandfather. 
Ken is also survived by one brother, Donald Robinson, of Spooner, Wisconsin.  He was preceded in death by two sisters, Audrey and Carolyn, and an infant brother Dale. His second wife, Susanne Wilson Robinson, of DuBois, Penn., also survives him.

There was an October 6 memorial service for Ken in DuBois, and cremains burial was in Beechwoods Cemetery in Falls Creek, PA. His children were unable to attend that hastily arranged service for distance and financial reasons, but they held a memorial in Phoenix, where Ken had lived for 56 years, and several hundred friends gathered to honor him.

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