Ralph Smyre Robinson ’57

Ralph Smyre Robinson, Jr. was born June 2, 1935, in Charlotte, NC, the son of Charlotte and Ralph Robinson. He died peacefully February 7, 2022, at Covenant Village.

Ralph was educated in the Gaston public school system. He joined the Boy Scouts and successfully achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. He entered Woodberry Forest School in Virginia and upon graduation went to Davidson College for one year and joined Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He transferred to UNC Chapel Hill and graduated with a BS Degree in Business Administration in 1957.

He returned to Gastonia to join his father in the Robinson Mill textile plant. It was later sold to become a personal holding company which he managed for the rest of his life.

A lifelong member of First Presbyterian Church, Ralph distinguished himself in leadership and finance. He was a Deacon and Elder and served on many committees and special projects. He had great interest in the music programs and enjoyed the fellowship in the Henderlite Bible Class. Ralph lived the Christian scripture, “To whom much is given, much is required”. Publicly and privately, Ralph was known for his generosity to his faith and fellow man.

To the community, Ralph gave and sponsored great support. He served as President of the Gaston County YMCA, Gaston United Way, Chamber of Commerce and Gastonia Rotary Club. He was a Director of First Union Bank, Trustee of Saint Andrews Presbyterian College, and Chairman of the Community Foundation. He served on the Board of Visitors for Davidson College and Chairman at UNC Charlotte. In 2010, he was given the Sims Award for his leadership over many years.

Perhaps most rewarding was the recognition by the NC State Library System that honored Ralph as “NC Library Trustee of the Year”. This represented his insistence on education and reading. The Gaston County Library (Main Branch) Board of Directors room was named in his honor.

Beyond his civic devotions, Ralph was a worldwide traveler, accomplished photographer, scuba diver, water skier and long-distance swimmer. He was a true gentleman, and his life was one of generosity and humble gratitude. He was a devoted husband and father beloved by his family.

Ralph is survived by his wife Sally to whom he was married for 68 years, son Russell and wife Karen, daughter Leigh and husband Jack, son Greg and special friend Cynthia Ponce. Ralph was blessed with six grandchildren, Christopher and Connor Robinson, Cameron and Drew Finley, Georgia and Henry Robinson, and three great-grandchildren, Rory, Bane and Capri Robinson, and a sister, Ann Robinson Black. He was preceded in death by a brother Eldridge Conant Robinson who died in service to his country.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 7th at 11:00 AM in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church Gastonia with a gathering to celebrate his life following at the Gaston Country Club.

Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 1621 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia, NC 28054, Gaston Community Foundation, 1201 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia, NC 28054, or Covenant Village, 1351 Robinwood Road, Gastonia, NC 28054

McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia is serving the Robinson family where an online guest book is available at www.mcleanfuneral.com

Published by Charlotte Observer on May 4, 2022.