Bessie L. Robinson, first lady of Evening Star Church of God

The Buffalo News - - OBITUARIES - May 12, 1921 – March 15, 2019 By Anne Neville

Bessie L. Robinson, known as “Mother Robinson” in the Evening Star Church of God in Christ on Fill­more Av­enue, was much more than an ac­tive and de­voted pas­tor’s wife.

A long­time psy­chi­atric ward clerk in the old E.J. Meyer Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal, Mrs. Robinson was also a li­censed cos­me­tol­o­gist, a tai­lor and an avid fish­er­woman.

“Yes, she wore many hats,” said her son, Burl L. Smith. “But let me tell you about her hats, too. As a church first lady, she al­ways wore hats of ev­ery color and de­sign, and she looked dis­tin­guished and proper. We called her the jewel of the church.”

Mrs. Robinson died March 15 in her Cheek­towaga home. She was 97.

Born in Mar­ion, La., she was the daugh­ter of Wil­lie and Vester An­drews and grad­u­ated from Warren High School. In school, she played guard on the bas­ket­ball team.

When she was 13, she told her fam­ily, her father taught her to drive a 13-gear log­ging truck. Af­ter that, she said it was no prob­lem learn­ing to shift gears in a car, her son said.

The fam­ily moved to Pine Bluff, Ark., where Mrs. Robinson su­per­vised the of­fi­cers din­ing hall in an avi­a­tion school dur­ing World War II.

In 1944, af­ter the death of her mother, she vis­ited Buf­falo for the first time to stay with her un­cle, Bon­nie Byrd.

She then moved to Kansas City, where she worked as a su­per­vi­sor in a syn­thetic rub­ber plant.

Af­ter mov­ing to Pine Bluff, she cos­me­tol­ogy li­cense and worked as a beau­ti­cian.

In 1952, she be­gan work as a ward clerk in the psy­chi­atric nurs­ing depart­ment of Meyer Memo­rial Hos­pi­tal, the fore­run­ner of Erie County Med­i­cal Cen­ter. She worked there for 25 years, re­tir­ing in 1977.

In the evenings, Mrs. Robinson took classes at the He­len Grabowski School of Tai­lors, be­com­ing a cer­ti­fied tai­lor.

She made her own cloth­ing and a few gar­ments for her son, but “that was more like a hobby for her,” her son said. “She didn’t get into it as a busi­ness; she didn’t have the time.”

In Buf­falo, Mrs. Robinson joined Holy Tem­ple Church of God in Christ, where she served as Sun­day school teacher, pres­i­dent of the Young Peo­ple Will­ing Work­ers group, sec­re­tary of the Bible Band, a ra­dio an­nouncer and church clerk. She sang with the McClel­lan Gospel Cho­rus and worked with the Nurses Unit.

Statewide, her church work in­cluded serv­ing with the Nurses Unit and the Women in White and as as­sis­tant sec­re­tary for the state Moth­ers Board. She also earned her Evan­ge­list Mis­sion­ary Li­cense.

In 1965, she mar­ried El­der Marvin W. Robinson, who was a min­is­ter at the Holy Tem­ple Church of God in Christ.

In 1972, El­der Robinson founded the Evening Star Church of God in Christ in a cou­ple of store­fronts, Smith said. The con­gre­ga­tion con­structed the church’s cur­rent build­ing, which opened in 1989.

Mrs. Robinson served as dis­trict pres­i­dent of the Min­is­ters Wives or­ga­ni­za­tion for many years.

At her church, she was a Sun­day school su­per­in­ten­dent and teacher, Bible Band teacher, pres­i­dent of YPWW and the Moth­ers Board.

She was also church clerk and or­gan­ist.

When she had free time, she loved to fish, drop­ping lines at sev­eral fa­vorite places, in­clud­ing the foot of Ferry Street and El­li­cott Creek.

“Last sum­mer, un­til she was hos­pi­tal­ized at the end of Au­gust, she had al­ready gone fish­ing” with a grand­son, Smith said.

Be­sides her son and hus­band of 54 years, Mrs. Robinson is sur­vived by five step­daugh­ters, Peggy San­ford, Tina Robinson, Francine Jones, Anita Robinson and Gwen In­gram; a step­son, the Rev. Tony Robinson; two grand­sons; and many step­grand­chil­dren and step-great-grand­chil­dren.

A ser­vice will be­gin at noon Mon­day in Evening Star Church of God in Christ, 1552 Fill­more Ave.

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