John Shepard Robinson, 87, died on Wednesday, March 1, 2023. He was born on September 3, 1935 in Charleston, SC to the late Richard Grier Robinson and Ethel Shepard Robinson. John’s father died of typhus fever when John was three years old and his brother, Grier was five. Ethel Robinson raised, supported, and loved both boys as a single parent until her death in 1988.
Affectionately known to many as “Big John,” he was the kindest of souls, a true Southern gentleman, a man of faith, and a man of family. He was a lifelong tennis player, earning the #1 position on the Men’s Varsity Team at Davidson College. John was a member of Charlotte Country Club, where he nurtured many friendships and continued to master his tennis game. As a devoted and longtime member of Myers Park Presbyterian Church, John served as a Deacon, Elder and Stephen Minister. He loved the North Carolina mountains, where he spent summers as a child in Montreat, and during his later years in both Linville and Blowing Rock. John’s beautiful singing voice and talent for playing both the piano and cornet fostered a love of music throughout his life.
In his early years, John was educated in Charleston schools, including Porter-Gaud School, before graduating high school in 1953 from the Darlington School in Rome, GA. He attended Davidson College and graduated in 1957 with a degree in economics. Following his graduation from Davidson, John served as an officer in the United States Army Infantry and was stationed in Fort Benning, GA. He then accepted a job with the Irving Trust Company in New York City, where he worked on Wall Street for two years.
In the summer of 1957, John met Elizabeth Reaves McNair (Beth) in Montreat. They married on July 16, 1960, and settled in Charlotte. Following in both his father’s and brother’s footsteps, John worked for Belk Stores in Charlotte for many years, where he most notably established the Belk Credit Card. He later worked for The National Life Insurance Company until his retirement.
John and Beth were happily married for twenty-eight years until Beth’s death from cancer in 1988. They were blessed with three children, Reaves, Shep and Flora. John was fortunate to marry Martha McDonald on February 24, 1990. John and Martha enjoyed thirty-three years together and had a wonderful marriage. Martha’s three children, Marty, James and Murray were important parts of his life.
John is survived by his wife, Martha McDonald Robinson; children, Reaves Robinson Thompson and her husband, Sandy, John Shepard Robinson, Jr. and his wife, Woodie, and Flora Robinson Warbington; grandchildren, Beth Thompson Taylor and her husband, Paul, Emily Thompson, Alex Thompson and his wife, Anna, Liza Robinson Williams and her husband, Rob, John Robinson III, Carroll Warbington; and great-grandson, Jack Taylor. John was predeceased by his first wife, Beth McNair Robinson and his brother, Richard Grier Robinson, Jr.
John’s family wishes to thank Memory and Movement Charlotte and the Embrace Healthcare staff at Southminster Retirement Community for their unwavering care, support and kindness.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM on Friday, March 10, 2023, at Myers Park Presbyterian Church. The family will receive friends following the service in Oxford Hall.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be offered in memory of John to Myers Park Presbyterian Church, 2501 Oxford Place, Charlotte, NC 28207 (www.myersparkpres.org) or to The Ivey, 6030 Park South Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210 (www.theivey.com).