1934-2010 MISSOULA — Carson Nathaniel Robinson, “Papa,” 76, devoted husband, father and grandfather, passed away of natural causes on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2010, surrounded by the beauty of his favorite hunting spot in the Big Hole Valley of Montana.
Carson was born in Pound, Va., to Claudius McKinley and Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Robinson, the ninth of 16 children.
Upon graduation from high school, Carson attended Berea College in Berea, Ky., where he met his future bride Betty.
After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in Geology, Carson enlisted in the Marine Corps, entered the OCS program and was commissioned at Quantico, Va. He served his country in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Marine Divisions for more than 26 years in various command and staff assignments, including two tours in Vietnam. While stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, and serving as the Marine Corps liaison officer to the Army for weapons development, Carson received his Master of Business Administration from Central Texas College in Killeen, Texas. Upon his retirement in 1984, as a lieutenant colonel, Carson pursued a second career with Eagle Technology Inc. in Dumfries, Va., as a civilian program analyst for several U.S. Marine Corps programs including the PLRS system and the Artillery Fire Direction system.
In 1987, Carson fulfilled his lifelong dream of owning a farm when he and Betty purchased their lush 220 acre farm with a unique old farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in Shenandoah, Va. Through their vision, hard work and determination, Carson and Betty transformed the overgrown and neglected property into a vision of beauty and entertained family and friends with their generous southern hospitality. Carson also thoroughly enjoyed entertaining family, friends and co-workers with his humorous stories of “life on the farm.” In 1989 and 1990, his children, Steve and Deborah, left Virginia and moved to Montana. Soon thereafter, Carson, experienced the thrill of hunting big game with his son in the beautiful wilds of Montana and he was hooked. He thoroughly looked forward to every hunting trip with Steve and returned home to Virginia with amazing and entertaining stories for his family and friends. The year 1997 brought great joy with the birth of his first grandchild, Sarah, and even more trips were made to Montana for special time with her. In 1999, Carson and Betty received the shocking news of their son’s diagnosis of Stage 3 Melanoma. They decided to sell the farm so they could move to Montana and be closer to their children and grandchildren. The year 2000 was bittersweet as it brought both the great joy of the birth of twin grandchildren, John and Rebeccah, and the deep sorrow from the death of their son, Steve, three months later.
After moving to Montana in 2001, Carson “officially” retired and thoroughly enjoyed his role as Papa to his three precious grandchildren by baby-sitting them, spending quality time with them and engaging them in active play. He was a positive role model and constantly encouraged his grandchildren to think positively, work hard and do their very best.
He also joined and became an active member in various organizations and associations. He was a member of the local Western Montana Military Officers Association, served in various positions as the chaplain, vice president, sergeant at arms and chapter representative of the Marines of the Bitterroot, volunteered on the Moose Can Gully Neighborhood Council and was the secretary of the Ridge Homeowner’s Association. He was also a member of the Rotary Club of Missoula and served as the Red Badge chair, guiding new Rotarian members. In addition, Carson was a sponsor and active fundraiser for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and for both the Bitterroot and Missoula Chapters of Ducks Unlimited.
During his life, Carson epitomized the Rotarian motto of “Service above Self” in his various roles as son, husband, father, friend and Marine. He was a man of upstanding character and integrity, with a can do positive attitude and was well respected and dearly loved by his family and friends. He was a man of courage and principles and wasn’t afraid to stand up for his country and what he believed in. He touched many lives as a role model and mentor.
Carson was preceded in death by his son Steven; his parents McKinley and Elizabeth; his brothers Henry, Percy and McKinley “Mac”; and his sisters Elwanda and Eloise.
Survivors include his loving wife Betty of 53 years; and his daughter Deborah; his grandchildren Sarah, Rebeccah and John; his sisters Virginia, Thelma, Lelia, Delores, Betty Carol, Monica, Virgie and Sharon; his brothers Warren, and James Talmadge “JT”; and numerous nieces, nephews and extended family.
A celebration of Carson’s life will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 5, at the Heritage Hall at Fort Missoula. If you knew Carson and were touched by his life, please come and bring your memories, pictures, stories, etc. to share.
It was Carson’s wish that he be cremated and his ashes interred at the National Cemetery in Quantico. Graveside services, with full military honors, will be scheduled and announced at a later date.
The family suggests memorials in Carson’s name to the Steven Scott Robinson Memorial Endowment (dedicated to educating the public and school children regarding the dangers and prevention of skin cancer, especially melanoma) c/o Community Medical Center, 2827 Fort Missoula Road, Missoula, MT 59804, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, or Ducks Unlimited.
Papa, although our hearts are broken and countless tears have been shed, one day we will see you in heaven and on that day we will rejoice and celebrate once again.