Anne Kilbourne Jeffrey Robinson P '81, an inseparable partner with her husband in all matters Kenyon and alumni, died Monday, September 2, in the company of her family at Kendal at Granville.
Widely known as Annie, the widow of Jefferson D. “Jeff” Robinson III 1949 H '88 P '81, the former director of the Office of Alumni Affairs, was a longtime Gambier resident, a generous hostess, and the heart of a Kenyon alumni family that includes her son and three grandchildren. She was eighty-five and had been married for sixty-two years to Jeff, who died on August 26, 2011.
“She was dedicated to Kenyon College and was very much a strong partner with dad in their adventures meeting and greeting the alumni in Gambier and all over this country,” her daughter, Trina Robinson Secor P ’98 ’02, said. From the time her husband took the Kenyon job in 1978 for a ten-year turn and forever after, Annie made Kenyon “the focus of her life,” Secor said. “She was the ultimate hostess. They were very involved.
“They loved being surrounded by Kenyon kids. They helped students in many ways. They had international students at their house at vacation times. They hosted families who came for tours. Their guest room had a revolving door.”
Annie was born in Columbus, Ohio. She graduated from Endicott Junior College, where her major was photography. She was active in the Junior League in the cities near where she lived, including Columbus, Syracuse, and Toledo. And Annie was active in the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. But it was at Kenyon where she found her leading role.
“She was a wonderful ambassador for Kenyon,” former Kenyon trustee Julia Johnson ’73 H ’99 said. “In that Kenyon commitment to English in every respect, she found her milieu. Also, it was Episcopalian, and Annie was a great Episcopalian. She loved the church and she loved the liturgy, because it was literature.”
Annie was well-read and a sharp grammarian. “If you ended a sentence with a preposition, you were in trouble,” Johnson said. “And she would let you know.” But Annie maintained a sense of humor, sometimes subtle. Her “keen eye and sense of style” came into play when she oversaw the renovation of a Quarry Chapel Road barn into a fetching home.
Scott R. Baker ’94, director of Alumni and Parent Programs, recalled a vital and congenial personality. “Annie’s warm and welcoming presence – both on the road at regional events and in Gambier – will be greatly missed. Annie was always there, whether she was meeting alumni for the first time at a regional gathering or entertaining Kenyon royalty – Paul Newman comes to mind – at her home. In many ways, it’s the end of an era.”
An annual award for outstanding service as a regional association president is named in her honor. The Alumni Council presented Jeff and Annie with the Thomas B. and Mary M. Greenslade Award in 2009. That award is given to members of the Kenyon family who demonstrate affection and loyalty to the College.
The experience of Meredith Ashley ’93 speaks for many alumni. “My standing dinner with Annie and Jeff on Friday nights during college at the Village Inn is something I will never forget,” he said. “They went from being my parents’ close friends to my close friends. We'd drive to soccer games all over Ohio, discuss classes and politics, and I learned so much from them. She was a positive force, and she reinforced many things for me, chief among them honesty, both with yourself and with others.
“Somewhere else on that long list of learnings are proofreading and editing.”
The Kenyon experience has linked generations in the Robinson family. Alumni include her son, the Rev. Canon Mark K.J. Robinson ’81 P ’12, and grandchildren Virginia Secor Shaw ’98, Caroline Secor Masterson ’02, and Sewell Robinson ’12.
Annie is survived by Trina; sons Mark and Jefferson D. Robinson IV; eight grandchildren; six great grandchildren; and brothers Joseph A. Jeffrey Jr. and David L. Jeffrey. Memorial contributions may be made to the Jefferson D. and Anne J. Robinson Scholarship Fund, Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio 43022 or Hospice of Central Ohio, P.O. Box 430, Newark, Ohio, 43058.
Prepared by the Office of Public Affairs
September 3, 2013