William “Bill” Robinson’s Home going Ceremony: Saying Goodbye to a Fine Black Man
By Gloria Dulan-Wilson
William “Bill” Robinson, father, community leader, and husband of dynamic Assemblywoman Annette M. Robinson, made his transition on December 3,2009, after a valiant battle with prostate cancer. He was 72 years old.
The fact that Bill Robinson was a Fine Black Man (FBM) stemmed not only from his handsome good looks, but because of his strength of character, his love of his wife and children, the example he sat as a man and as a father; from his steadfastness in the face of the negative characterizations Black men have been saddled with; for his very heart, soul and spirit as well as his integrity and intelligence.
That‘s a lot of accolades to hang on one man, but Bill Robinson truly deserved each and every one of them, and perhaps some others as well. You see, he and his wife, Annette Robinson shared 52 years of marriage, 6 children, and a life of happy experiences, sprinkled with a few challenges, and a great many more triumphs.
A man of many talents, Bill Robinson was perhaps best known for his singing. He was so good that he had auditioned for the famed group the Ink Spots, back in the 50‘s, and was accepted to tour with them. As exciting a validation it was for him, he decided against it, placing the value of being at home to raise his children and to be a good husband to his wife. In other words, he placed family over fame. While some may consider it a sacrifice, Bill considered it his responsibility to be there for them.
Tall and handsome at 6’2”, he made sure that his two daughters and four sons had the benefit of all the love, discipline and values he could impart to them. Standing by them through thick and thin, he was the stuff heroes are made of. Yet, apart from his neighbors and children, he remains an unsung hero, at least as far as the main stream media is concerned.
But as testimony after testimony conveyed, Bill Robinson was and is much loved and respected in his community. The program graced with a very handsome color photo, was filled with letters of love from his devoted wife, Annette, which read, in part: “Thank you for the years we’ve shared. We’ve had some good days, some bad and some hills to climb. Through it all you stood tall and unwavering in your commitment to your family.“
His sons, James Anthony, Blaine, Mont; daughters Anna Marie and Dawn Alicia each wrote from the heart their gratitude to their father’s guidance, discipline and love. There were touching tributes to him from his grandchildren in farewell and gratitude. A family of many talents, granddaughter Lavonia A. Robinson sang in honor of her grandfather, barely making it through the tears.
Youngest son, the Rev. William Taharka Robinson, preached a sermon in honor of his father that brought the entire congregation at Bridge Street AME Church to their feet. Chronicling the many trips and sojourns to places of interest his father took them to as children, he spoke of the way his father would impart lessons of wisdom to them through word and example.
Eldest son, James, wrapped it up with his own recollection of his father’s punctuality, and ability to know the exact time without having to use a watch.
According to Sam Pinn of Ft. Green Senior Council, consummate musician, Bill Robinson was a favorite performer for 14 years at Brooklyn’s Jazz 966 -- a community center where he provided live entertainment. Many Brooklynites came out on Friday nights to dance and enjoy his music. A CD of “The Shrine of St. Cecelia,” a song he composed, was played in his honor for the congregation, with his clear voice reverberating throughout the church.
With so many words and tributes of praise, Brother William “Bill” Robinson’s life is worthy of a documentary, an exemplary work that should be held up as a beacon for other Fine Black Men in the making. A sort of workbook on how to reach that lofty status. It’s not that Bill Robinson was an exception to the rule or standard of what so many have characterized Black men as today. There are actually quite a few Fine Black Men such as himself who daily go unnoticed, unheralded, and unpraised. My father, grandfather, uncle and brother are all Fine Black Men, which is why it is so easy to recognized one when I see one. There are more of them in this community that we give credit for. Sister Annette Robinson and her family, and the extended family of the community of Brooklyn were truly blessed to have had Bill Robinson in their midst for so many loving and wonderful years.
Among those in attendance were State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, former Assemblyman Clarence Norman, Darryl Towns who also spoke for his father, Congressman Edolphus “Ed” Towns, Councilmembers Albert Vann, Letitia James, Regent Adelaide Sanford, community leader Katie Davis, Dr. Sheila Evans Tranum, Bishop Eric Figueroa, Rev. Robert Waterman, among so many others. The Rev. Cheryl Anthony helped Bill accept Jesus as his savior during his last days. The celebration was presided over by Dr. David Cousin, Pastor Bridge Street AME Church, where the homegoing ceremony was held.
Sharonnie Perry, a long time family friend and confidant made sure that the entire ceremony went as smoothly as possible, and read a poem she had composed in his honor, entitled “Remember Me As I Used to Be,” which reads, in part: “My leaving might have caused you some pain and grief, but rest assured your prayers were answered for it eased my pain and gave me relief. So don’t cry for me, when I must leave, for I will be with your forever. For I am the wind beneath your wing.”
While it is appropriate to offer condolences to the family, they are also to be congratulated as well. Because just as they were blessed, Bill Robinson was likewise blessed with a wonderful, loving family. And it is clear that their being in his life made his transition truly happy indeed. He could go knowing that his was a job well done.
Stay blessed &