Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ross Collins Robison, 1913-2010

A dear friend, cousin, and former Itawambian passed away Tuesday in Hernando. Ross Collins Robison was born December 1, 1913 to Carlton McKindrey Robison and Mary Myrtle Harbor, the middle child of five boys. He and his siblings grew up barely east of Tremont on land that his mother inherited from her father, Talmon Harbor. According to Ross, his Granddaddy Harbor's house stood where the Canup house now is, and Ross's family lived just down the hill along the old Bankhead Highway. As a little boy, Ross first attended school which was held then at the Tremont Methodist Church, where his family worshiped, and when the new grammar school was built he went there. After graduation from Tremont High School in 1932, Ross headed to Starkville for Mississippi A & M College. The first picture, above, is of a young Ross at college.

Ross was named after Ross Collins, a congressman from south Mississippi who frequently made stops at the Robison house during his travels to and from Washington. Ross's mother provided room and board for travelers through the area, and Congressman Collins enjoyed the Robison hospitality as a regular visitor.

All four Robison brothers received their degrees from Mississippi State University (Ross, Ray, Roy and Ruble; Rex, a fifth brother, died at age 10). It was at college that Ross met the love of his life, Lucile Stewart McCann, of Gulfport, who predeceased him in 2005. Ross obtained his master's degree in dairy science and later became head of the dairy farm operation at Mississippi State where he was instrumental in developing processes for the making of ice cream and cheese. In 1948 Ross and Lucille moved to Hernando where he served as county agent for DeSoto County and was in charge of developing the dairy industry to meet the growing need for milk and dairy products for the Memphis area.

Ross and I met in October 2006. After uncovering his wife's obituary during some research earlier that fall, I realized that Ross was still living, found his address, and wrote him a letter. He immediately called me, and we had the first of several delightful conversations. Cousin Lucy, pictured above with Ross, rode with me to Hernando for a visit with Ross and his children. Ross's great-grandfather was John E. Robinson, my great-great-great grandfather. That's one connection we share. Another connection is through the Evans family. Ross's grandmother, Martha Evans Harbor, was a sister to my great-great grandfather John T. Evans.

For his 96th birthday this past December, Ross was honored at his church with a celebration. Lucy and Sue (my cousins) and I drove up for the occasion and were pleased to see Ross in good health and spirits. According to Nancy, Ross's daughter, her father had a series of unfortunate health events in the last couple of weeks from which his body couldn't recover although she said his mind was upbeat and forward-looking even to the end. Nancy said he was looking forward to a game of Rook tonight. What? Ross played Rook, I asked? Sure, Nancy replied, her father could really show out in a game of Rook. An avid gardener, Ross already had tomato seedlings ready for planting on his patio garden.

Yes, Ross was a true Robison and Itawambian. I miss him already.

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