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Alvin Earl ‘Robby’ Robinson

(Dec. 11, 1915 - Feb. 23, 2013)

Alvin Earl “Robby” Robinson died peacefully at Spirit Mountain Hospice Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. His heart gently stopped after 97 years.

Robby was born Dec. 11, 1915 on a ranch in Charlotte, Texas, the second of six sons of Lafayette Abraham and Ruby Bates Robinson. He graduated from Harlendale High School in San Antonio and went to San Antonio Jr. College while working on the wards at the San Antonio State Mental Hospital.

He enlisted in the Navy on his 21st birthday, working as a pharmacist’s mate and in the radio room on the USS Astoria.

After being discharged, Robby went back to work at the hospital then on to New Orleans as a Medical Tech Assistant for the Public Health Department. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, Robby enlisted in the Army Air Corp. 

He married Lillian B. (Beryl) Robertson Feb. 1, 1942. 

Robby learned to fly the DC-3 (or C-47), and in September 1943 Robby’s squadron took off for England. There he began work with the 101st Airbourne towing paratrooper laden gliders. The weather was always bad there, and Robby invented an instrument landing system that allowed them to practice take offs and landings even in zero visibility weather. For this he was selected to be the lead pilot towing the gliders in on D-Day.

General Omar Bradley selected Robby to be his personal pilot which continued after the war. When Bradley retired as Chief of Staff of the Army, Robby stayed on as personal pilot to the next two Chiefs of Staff, General Ridgeway and General Taylor.

During this time, Robby and Beryl had three daughters, Jan, Pamela and Susan, and one son, Kim. 

Robby retired in 1958 and continued flying for NASA taking the scientists and astronauts from Huntsville, Ala., to Cape Canaveral, Fla.

After the contract with NASA expired, Robby flew other jobs including flights for Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, The Rolling Stones, and The Tijuana Brass.  He did a tour in Vietnam and Laos for Air America. He also flew for Brown and Root Construction Company.

Robby’s hobbies included Ham Radio operations where he relayed calls from Europe to the United States after WWII, helped in search and rescue events, “worked” lost ships in the Pacific, and stayed in touch with friends. He also took up archery and became state champion archer of Texas, Maryland and Alabama. He came in sixth in the Nationals.

Robby moved to Powell with his oldest daughter in 2007. He enjoyed our wide open spaces, his new Ham Radio friends, and his breakfast buddies at Pepe’s. 

Robby was preceded in death by his parents, his brothers Art, Ammon Judson (Jay), Clarence, and Herman, his daughter, Susan and his ex-wife, Beryl.

Robby is survived by his daughters Jan (Ken) Sons of Powell; Pamela (Bill) Booth of Moore, S.C.; his son Kim Bradley Robinson of San Antonio, Texas, and one brother, L.A. Robinson of Wicks, Ark.

Cremation has taken place. Services with military honors are planned for this fall at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Written condolences may be sent to the family at Thompson Funeral Home in Powell.

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