Harry C. Robbins ’50

Harry C. Robbins ’50 of Blowing Rock, N.C., died September 30. A native of Blowing Rock, he was a developer, entrepreneur, and leader in tourism promotion in the Blue Ridge Mountains. After service in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II, he returned to North Carolina where he attended Appalachian State Teachers College and Davidson College. In the 1950s his early career included a term as postmaster of Blowing Rock, and manager of the Blowing Rock scenic attraction. In the late 1950s, he assisted his brother Grover Robbins in the creation and operation of Tweetsie Railroad. Following the establishment of North Carolina’s first theme park, Harry and Grover began a new park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., that evolved into Goldrush Junction (a park that eventually became today’s Dollywood). At the same time, the Robbins Brothers began planning and construction of exclusive resort communities in the mountains, beginning with the Hound Ears Club in 1962. Subsequent projects, among many that were created by Harry and Grover in the 1960s and 70s, included the Beech Mountain resort and the Land of Oz theme park; The Reef resort in the Virgin Islands; and Linville Land Harbor. Youngest brother, Spencer Robbins, later joined the duo in many of these ventures. After Grover’s death in 1970, and on through the 1980s, Harry and Spencer continued to create prestigious resort and real estate communities in the mountains, the most notable of which was the Elk River Club in Banner Elk, which featured the state’s first Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course. The mountain region will remember him as one of the major visionaries in promoting Northwest North Carolina as a tourist destination, and a major force in bringing year-round economic success to the Appalachians. Throughout his career, he was a tireless promoter of quality tourism promotions to make the Boone-Blowing Rock-Banner Elk region a nation-wide destination. Harry is survived by his wife, Barbara J. Robbins, 300 Tweetsie Railroad Rd., Blowing Rock, N.C. 28605-9787; daughter Wendy; two sons, Christopher B. (Cathy) and Mark B. (Lyndsey); step-son Michael C. Presnell; three sisters, Lena Brooks, Peggy Sellers, and Ruth Botzis; and one brother, Spencer Robbins (Grace). He is also survived by a number of nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by one son, John Kevin Robbins; his parents, Grover C. Robbins, Sr. and Lena Miller Robbins; and one brother, Grover C. Robbins, Jr.