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Louise Robinson was born to the late Annie B. and O.B. Marshall of Dawson, Georgia as a wonderful gift, Christmas Day, 1927. One of twelve children and the youngest daughter, she learned to love the Lord at a very young age, joining the rest of her family at Sanders Gift Baptist Church. Church was one of those places that she really enjoyed, especially as an usher, she could talk to the members as they came in and “ get the news”. Later in life as a mother, she made sure her children knew the Lord, and even after they moved north, they often traveled from Chelsea to Roxbury to have the soul-stirring experience of a Pentecostal or Baptist church.
Long before she started school, she learned as much as her two older sisters by reading along and trying to do their schoolwork. Although she valued her days going to school, she found herself leaving school to work at a young age like so many other “ big or tall for their age” black children. She was almost too good at it as she found work picking and chopping cotton, processing tobacco, cooking in a diner and doing factory work to help her family. Her teachers and coaches didn’t forget her athletic abilities and called on her to play with the basketball team especially when they played out of town. On away days, she would work a few hours that day, then join the other players on the bus headed out of town.
On November 1, 1948, she married family friend and neighbor James Ivra Robinson, and for the next 58 years, they were united in life. James just so happened to be the younger brother of her sister, Eutha’s husband, William. He was also the younger brother of her brother, Walter’s wife Rena Pearl. ( The two families were intricately tied through these unions). Shortly thereafter, they moved to Albany where he found work as a day laborer and she worked as a housekeeper.
In 1959, the family moved to Chelsea and she began life as a displaced southerner in New England with six children. Ever the optimist, believing through hard work anything could be achieved, she adapted and began working as a housekeeper with flexible hours once all her children were in school that allowed her to be home after school. She often times told the story of going to pick up her youngest daughter Margaret only to lose sight of her as the other children came down the street. Afraid she had lost her, she rushed up the street , only to find Margaret standing behind a tree, greeting her with “don’t stop when you see me coming, you have to keep coming”. Only her love of children, especially her children, saved Margaret that day.
She along with James became avid bowlers for a few years and thoroughly enjoyed those evenings out. Many of her days were spent making their home a welcoming and warm space accommodating most of their interests. She also became a strong encourager for all the activities her children participated in, including cheerleading, glee club, football, basketball and ice hockey. Later in life, she did the same thing and more for her grandchildren. She was able to attend their school performances, track meets, took them to the movies, (showing them how to bring your own drink and popcorn in) took them shopping, to the beach and regularly out to eat. She was the grandma that everybody wanted because she loved them unconditionally and regularly defended them to their parents. One of her favorite phrases was “ don’t beat them at my house”.
She enjoyed watching the Court tv shows, like Judge Judy and she was an avid reader of magazines and newspapers. Anyone calling her in the evening would often find her reading her newspapers while her sister Mamie sat beside her and watched nighttime tv. The saying was “ if you saw one, you saw the other one”; they were as close as any set of twins. They even had their own phrases like “ somebody’s got a frigerator”, that usually meant somebody in close proximity was feeling ticked off or angry who was also acting as if nothing was bothering them.
Louise was also known for her outsized sense of humor as she always wanted others to feel at ease and having a good time. Her middle name probably should have been Full of Fun as she would actively create the fun by teasing a person or telling stories of her childhood in such a way that you had to laugh.
Louise loved, loved children and proclaimed at a young age according to her sister that she wanted lots of children even the paper doll kind of children. Her love of children was not restricted to her own as she always wanted her home to be a welcoming kind of place for her children and grandchildren’s friends. Holidays saw lots of children and grown folks stopping by the “256” to enjoy the company and meals she prepared. As the weather warmed up, she could be found sitting on the front porch or her side porch so she could keep an eye on her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and talk with people walking by, always “ getting the news”.
In the mid 90’s she along with most of her family began attending and becoming members of Emmanuel Baptist church. Her children and grandchildren participated in most activities in the church, attending Sunday school, Bible study classes, and Vacation Bible School. It was the good fun that others experienced when she was around that caused others in the church to seek membership in her “posse” which really made her smile.
Louise, like many southern-born folks was affectionately known by different names and hers included Johnnie Mae Macafield Marshall, Lucy Green, LucyLu, Grumma and Gremmo.
She transitioned on Thursday, September 1 after a relatively brief stay in the hospital. Louise lived through so many historical events, some good, some not at all good and at the end of her life, she was still able to make jokes and laugh with her children and grandchildren.
Left to cherish her memory are her children Gwendolyn Robinson Greene of Greenville, NC, James Robinson, Jr., Mamie Robinson-Lopez, Terry Robinson, all of Chelsea, Jacqueline Robinson-Perry of Jersey City, NJ and Margaret Robinson Williams of Chelsea. In addition, her brother-in-law Franklin Robinson and her sister-in-law Elizabeth Mitchell of Albany, GA. In addition, her grandchildren include Reginal Wilkerson, Chelsea, Alissia and Shana Cofer, Dyana Langley Robinson (Jeff Chornock), Autumn, Amber and Michael Lopez, Chantalle and Chandra Robinson, Jaime Swain, James and Amanda Robinson, Tracey Balloon Trotman (Maurice), as well as her special niece Eula Balloon and bonus daughter Reverend Dr. Lorraine Brown Cross. She is also survived by 22 great grandchildren and 5 great great grandchildren all of whom will miss her sense of humor and unconditional love along with a host of nieces, nephews and friends.
The viewing and celebration of a life well lived will be held on Thursday, September 8 at the Emmanuel Baptist Church, 20 Hillside Ave, Malden, MA 02148 starting at 10:00 am. The service will be live streamed on the church FaceBook page.