L. Calvin Robbins, a World War II Veteran, died on February 24, 2010, at the age of 84. He was being cared for at the Hubbard Hospice House in Charleston. His wife, Charlotte Sue Kinder Robbins, and his stepdaughter, Rebecca Robbins Kimmel, were both with him as he peacefully took his last breath.
Born July 20, 1925, in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, he was the son of Lindley C. And Ida Vandervoort Parry Robbins. He graduated from Westfield Friends, George School and Vanderbilt University, with a B.A. degree in Business Administration. He was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity. He was enrolled as a freshman at Swarthmore College before he was drafted in the U.S. Navy. While in the Navy, he served abroad ship for three years and was awarded two bronze stars. He was attached to the Third Fleet, spending his entire time in the Pacific Oceans Area. While still aboard ship in Okinawa, he received an appointment to the Naval Reserve Officer’s Training Program and was sent to Vanderbilt University, where he subsequently graduated and received his commission as Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve.
After graduation from Vanderbilt, he began his career in retail with Montgomery Ward & Company as a management trainee. During a twelve year period he was the manager of two stores and the regional manager of advertising and sales promotion in Chicago for their North Central region. While in Chicago he attended Northwestern University, earning credits toward his M.B.A. on the Chicago campus at night.
He then joined Joseph Horne Company, a leading department store in Pittsburgh, during which time he opened and managed two suburban stores and later became the new store development manager for the entire company. Subsequently., he was appointed by the parent company, Associated Dry Goods Corporation of New York City, to be one of a three-man team to open a new store division in St. Petersburg, FL. As a Vice President of operations and Superintendent of the company, Robinson’s of Florida grew to be a chain of thirteen major department stores located in west, central and south Florida. This parent company and all operating divisions were eventually taken over in a merger by The May Department Store Company out of St. Louis. After this, he joined Heck’s Department Store of Charleston, West Virginia (his wife’s hometown) as a Vice President. At that time they were operating 65 stores, but the competition forced the company to close.
Following this, he left retail and the then governor of West Virginia, Hon. Gaston Caperton, appointed him Deputy Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Health & Human Services. After a change of Governors, he was appointed Assistant Director of the Department of Economic Opportunity. Upon leaving state government, he joined the United National Bank as a Trust Investment Officer and this was his last professional position before he retired.
He served on the advisory board of the Salvation Army, was a Lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve and belonged to the Reserved Officer’s Association. Mr. Robbins was also a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a charter member of the Illinois Huguenot Society and a member of the Board of Trustees of The Alice Paul Institute in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey. A birthright Quaker, he was the first cousin of Alice Paul, a fellow Quaker and the American suffragist leader who fought for the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which secured a woman’s right to vote. He was also a direct descendent of John Winthrop, a long-term colonial governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and of British Naval Captain, William Crispin, the uncle of William Penn and the first Chief Commissioner of the Province of Pennsylvania.
Mr. Robbins is survived by his wife, Charlotte Kinder Robbins of South Charleston, his son, William Greenlee Robbins of St. Petersburg, FL, his stepdaughter, Rebecca Robbins Kimmel of Drexel Hill, PA, and his stepson, Troy A. Mynes of Dunbar. He leaves three grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Barbara Hatley of St. Petersburg, FL. There will be no viewing or service. The family will have a private burial in Moorestown, NJ, at a later date. He donated his brain to The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to be used for research in finding a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.