Sterling pioneer Nina A Robinson died Friday, June 10, 2005, at her home with her family. She was 80.
A memorial potluck as a celebration of Mrs. Robinson's life will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska on the Kenai Spur Highway in Kenai. Mrs. Robinson wished to be cremated and her ashes will join her husband's to nourish their hayfields and apple trees.
Mrs. Robinson was born March 2, 1925, in Farmington, N.M., to James Allen and Josie May (Dunagan) Hermance. When she was 4, the hardships of the Depression forced her mother to place her and her siblings in foster care, and she soon became the adopted daughter of A.B. and Nellie McClellan. Her family then included three older brothers, and the McClellans owned and worked on various farms and ranches in southwest Colorado.
Mrs. Robinson graduated from Cortez High School in 1942 and, seeking adventure and education, traveled north to Grand Junction, Colo., to attend business college. The domestic labor demands of World War II led to her employment at Continental Denver Modification Center, where she honed the skills and self-reliance she would later need to develop her home in Alaska's wilderness.
Mrs. Robinson dreamed of journeying to Alaska, and in 1945 a young Marine from Dolores, Colo., Jesse Ward Robinson, wooed her with the proposal of going north to stake out their own farm and raise a family. The steamship Columbia carried them from Seattle to Seward in March 1946, and the excitement she felt on that trip never dimmed. The Robinsons set anchor in the land they homesteaded in Sterling and became a local icon of stability, integrity and service.
By 1954, with two toddlers underfoot and three infants in diapers, the Robinsons were milking, bottling and delivering the product of Loop Farm Dairy. The dairy later gave way to beef and hay production, and Mrs. Robinson's bookkeeping skills joined with her husband's construction work to form what is now CIC Inc.
Always supportive of her husband's and children's ventures, she provided a successful foundation for many family business enterprises, while also blending her life with community service. She was at once finishing and wiring her house, supporting student activities as a founding member of the Sterling Homemakers Club, raising kids, hay, and calves, working as an election official and part-time Sterling postmaster, generating records and payroll for the family business and promoting the formation of the Sterling Community Club.
"Nina leaves a legacy of determination, frugality and compassion for all living things. Our mother's gentle, quiet strength was truly the wind beneath our wings," her family said.
Mrs. Robinson was preceded in death by her lifelong companion, her husband Jesse Robinson; and brothers, William Kitto and Bill Honaker.
She is survived by sons and daughters-in-law, Mitchel and Linda Robinson of Lake Stevens, Wash., Steven and Dawn Robinson, Dean and Susan Robinson and Zene and Kim Robinson of Sterling; daughter, Sue Robinson of Fritz Creek; sister and brother-in-law, Annie and Charles Hinton of Colorado; brothers, Gerald Hermance and Andy Nielson, both of Washington; sisters-in-law Carmen Wilson, Marguerite Wesch and Carol Melton, all of Colorado, Rosemary Hopkins and Barbara Faneuf, both of Idaho, and Joanne Odom of Soldotna; grandchildren, Ryan, Jennifer, Celina, Alicia, Aubrey, Deverie, Aronca, Julie, Clifford, Jay and Amie; great-grandchildren Arianna, Sarina, Logan, Connor, Bryonna, Brittney, Emily, Ryan, Trevor, Trenton, Natalie, Lydia and Tobias; and many nieces and nephews.
Memorial donations may be made in Mrs. Robinson's memory to the Hospice of the Central Peninsula, P.O. Box 2584, Soldotna, AK 99669.
Arrangements were made by Peninsula Memorial Chapel in Kenai.
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