James Hendry “Jim” Robinson ’57

James Hendry Robinson, M.D., 87, of Wilmington passed away June 24, 2022. He was born January 19, 1935 in Clinton, North Carolina to the late Albert Grady and Moye Mercer Robinson. He was predeceased by his son, James Hendry “Chip” Robinson, Jr., his brothers, Robert Edmund Robinson and Albert Grady Robinson, Jr., his sister-in-law, Rose McLean Whitesides, and his nephew, Henry Monroe Whitesides, Jr.

Jim was a graduate of Clinton High School, Class of 1953, and Davidson College, Class of 1957, where he was a member of the wrestling team and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. During a college summer, he worked at Montreat, the Presbyterian retreat in the North Carolina mountains, and met and fell in love with a Montreat summer resident, Nancy “Toppy” McLean of Gastonia. They married in 1958, and began their blessed journey together of life, love, family, work and Christian service. Jim then attended the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Class of 1961, while Toppy taught school in Durham before having their first child, Chip. Jim and Toppy then went to Danville, Pennsylvania (where Bert was born) for Jim’s internship at Geisinger Memorial Hospital. Jim served in the U.S. Army, Retired Reserve. Jim and Toppy returned to Chapel Hill for Jim’s residency in anesthesiology, then moved to Wilmington in 1964, where Leslie was born three years later. They were grateful for the warm reception by the community as Jim established the first anesthesiology practice in Wilmington at James Walker Memorial Hospital, where he practiced until 1967, then moved to the newly established New Hanover Memorial Hospital (now Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center) and formed Wilmington Anesthesiologists. Jim practiced anesthesiology for 34 years, retiring in 1998. He enjoyed working with his colleagues, staff and patients, providing care through the years, and becoming a much beloved figure in the medical community and among his patients, who often lovingly recounted that “Dr. Robinson put me to sleep.” He was a member of the American Medical Association, American Society of Anesthesiologists, the New Hanover-Pender Medical Society, and numerous other professional associations.

In addition to his professional excellence and leadership, Jim was known for his staunch devotion to his family, his uncomplaining perseverance through early-onset arthritis, his grace, wisdom, humility, dry wit, and his twinkle-eyed, mischievous sense of humor. He had a strong love for and faith in God, and was an active member of First Presbyterian Church. He served multiple terms as an Elder, a Deacon, and committee chairman. Jim served on numerous community boards, including two terms as President of the Board of Directors of Good Shepherd Center, and was instrumental in the establishment of the overnight shelter, the Day Center and the Second Helpings program. Jim and Toppy enjoyed their memberships in the Carolina Yacht Club, Surf Club, and Cape Fear Country Club. They enjoyed attending their children’s school and extracurricular activities, regularly entertaining their friends in their homes in Wilmington and Montreat, and serving in the church and community. Jim especially enjoyed teaching Chip and Bert to hunt and fish as he had been privileged to do while growing up in Clinton, and they partook in an annual hunting trip with friends in the Virginia mountains for many years. Following Jim’s retirement, Jim and Toppy would extend their annual Montreat visits into long summer seasons, graciously hosting family and friends to stay and enjoy Montreat’s holy beauty. Jim delighted in his role as “Pop” to his grandchildren and great grandchildren, and dispensed many words of wisdom and hugs of love and affection through the years.

Jim is survived by his loving wife of nearly 64 years, Nancy “Toppy” McLean Robinson of the home; son, Albert Lynn Robinson (Lucy) of Wilmington; daughter, Leslie Robinson Morris (Joe) of Asheville; daughter-in-law (Chip’s widow), Robin Wicks Robinson of Wilmington; sister, Kathryn Robinson Holder (Tom) of Aiken, South Carolina; and brother, Redmond Mercer Robinson (Doris) of Winterville. He is also survived by his eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren: Alexandria Robinson Wilson and her children, Grey, Paige, and Charlotte Wilson, all of New Bern; McLean Gardner Robinson of Wilmington; Graham Kent Robinson and Jane Kathryn Robinson of Charlotte; James Hendry Robinson III of Raleigh; Wallace Katherine McLean Robinson of Wilmington; and James Robinson (“Jack”) Morris and Michael Joseph Morris of Asheville. He is also survived by Toppy’s brother, L.L. McLean, Jr. (Suzanne) and his family, and numerous beloved nieces, nephews and friends.

A Service of Witness to the Resurrection and Celebration of Life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 29 at First Presbyterian Church. The service will be preceded by a private Committal Service in the Columbarium Memorial Garden at 1:30 p.m.

The family will receive friends from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28 at the home, 1903 Brookhaven Road. Memorials to Dr. Robinson may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 125 S. Third Street, Wilmington, NC 28401, or Montreat Conference Center, P.O. Box 969, Montreat, NC, 28757, or to a charity of one’s choice. Arrangements by Andrews Mortuary. Condolences may be left at www.andrewsmortuary.com.

Norman Smith Richards ’57

Norman Smith Richards of Davidson died on June 4, 2022 after a brief illness.

He was born on October 6, 1932 in Lancaster, SC, the son of the late James Prioleau Richards and Katharine Wylie Richards. He graduated from Heath Springs High School in Heath Springs, SC and served two years in Europe with the US Army Airborne. He then entered Davidson College where he graduated in 1957.

He spent his entire career in sales and sales management in the packaging industry, first with Sonoco Products, and finally with JR Cole Industries of Charlotte.

Norman is survived by his wife, Zelime Dickson Richards (Lemie) and their four sons: Joe (Helen), Dick (Garnett), Norman (Lillian), and George (Michelle). Their nine grandchildren were one of the joys of his life. They are John, Genie (Pedro Oliviera), Joe, Henry, Clay, Leemie, Susan, Lilly Carl, and Davis. He also is survived by his sister Jane Richards Elliott, brother-in-law George Dickson (Ann), and nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and brother, Rich (Dot).

Norman had a life-long interest in sports, especially Davidson Wildcats, and loved hiking in the mountains. He and Lemie also enjoyed travel. He was a YMCA member for more than fifty years and served several terms on the Lake Norman Board of Managers. He was a member of Davidson College Presbyterian Church, where he was an elder. In the community, Norman was active with Meals on Wheels, Second Harvest, and Loaves and Fishes. He was also an avid gardener and loyal to Davidson College.

Memorials may be sent to Davidson College Presbyterian Church (PO Box 337, Davidson, NC 28036); The Pines Residents Fund (400 Avinger Lane, Davidson, NC 28036) or Davison College (405 North Main St. 28036). A service of thanksgiving for Norman’s life will be held on Friday, June 10 at 3:00 p.m. at Davidson College Presbyterian Church. The family will greet friends following the service in the Congregation House. Online condolences at www.jamesfuneralhomelkn.com.

Edward L’Engle “Ted” Baker ’57

Edward L’Engle Baker passed away peacefully at his home on Thursday afternoon, April 28, 2022. A lifetime resident of Jacksonville, FL, he was born on February 2, 1935 to Thompson Simkins and Cynthia L’Engle Baker. Ted was a 1953 graduate of the Woodberry Forest School in Orange, VA, where he excelled in track, a sport he continued to pursue at Davidson College, from which he graduated in 1957. Following college, Ted served in the US Marine Corps (1957 – 1960), attaining the rank of 1st Lieutenant.

Upon completion of his military service, Ted returned home to Jacksonville, where he began his career in the construction materials and mining industries, working alongside his father Tom at Shands & Baker and later his brother John and son Tom at Florida Rock Industries and Patriot Transportation Holdings, serving in capacities such as President, CEO and Chairman during a career that spanned nearly a half century. He was the most significant driver behind Florida Rock’s growth, taking an enterprise his father started during the Great Depression public in 1972 and expanding its reach across the southeast tremendously during the 20th century. Ted continued to be involved and take an active role in the company up through these past few months.

On top of his rewarding work career, Ted was also dedicated to his community and his life was filled with many accomplishments. Among them, he was a past Trustee and Campaign Cabinet Chair of Davidson College, Board member and officer of the Florida Council of 100, The Florida Chamber of Commerce, The Jacksonville Port Authority, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Orange Bowl Committee, Flowers Industries, HeidelbergCement Co (Germany), Regency Realty Corporation, Barnett Bank, Flint River Textiles, The River Club, Timuquana Country Club and the Police Athletic League. He also received the Florida Trucking Association’s Man of the Year Award (1984) and, most recently, was inducted into the Pit & Quarry Hall of Fame (2022). He was a member of The Valley Club (Sun Valley, ID), Timuquana Country Club and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, as well as a past member of Pablo Creek Golf Club (Founder Member), the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, the Roaring Gap Club (NC), The River Club and the Tournament Players Club.

Ted is predeceased by his loving wife of 54 years, Ann McDonald Baker, and his sister, Sarah Baker Porter. He is survived by his four children, Tom Baker, II (Martha), Missy Boney (Roland), Sally Lee (Larry) and Margaret Wetherbee (Putt);

Ten grandchildren: Cameron, Julia and Sam Baker, Cynnie and Mac Boney, Annie Lee O’Steen (Luke) and Ted Lee, and Frances, Berkeley and Sims Wetherbee; as well as his brother John D. Baker, II (Anne).

A funeral service will be held on Wednesday, May 4th at 11:00 A.M. at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 4129 Oxford Ave., Jacksonville, FL, followed by a reception. This service may be viewed live online on the St. Mark’s Church website (stmarksjacksonville.org/virtual-worship). In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to St. Mark’s Episcopal Garden Fund.

Published in Florida Times Union

Posted online on May 02, 2022

Daniel Senn “Dan” LaFar ’57

Daniel Senn LaFar, Jr. “Dan” died on Thursday, March 3, 2022. Dan was born June 19, 1935 in Rock Hill, S.C. to the late Daniel Senn LaFar and Francis Marshall LaFar. Most people describe Dan as “always a gentleman”.

Dan’s childhood and early years were spent in Rock Hill and in the Camp Hill area of Pennsylvania during World War II. The family moved to Gastonia, N.C. in 1945 and Dan spent his years delivering the local daily newspaper and in scouting where he became an Eagle Scout and served as a counselor at Piedmont Boy Scout Camp for three summers. He graduated from Gastonia High School where he served as president of the Senior Class. Dan then attended Davidson College where he was a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, elected to Phi Beta Kappa scholastic fraternity, served as President of The Student Body, and became a Distinguished Military Graduate in 1957. Dan then served in the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant and as a General’s Aide. After his military service, Dan entered Harvard Business School where he received his MBA degree.

Dan’s business career centered around the textile industry with a group of six yarn spinning mills each independently owned but operated by the LaFar family (under the name LaFar Industries) He worked closely in the business with his father Dan S. LaFar Sr., his uncle David R. LaFar Jr. (Doc), his 1st cousin David R. LaFar III, and later with his son Daniel S. LaFar III. Dan was active in the industry and became President of The American Yarn Spinners Association, the trade organization for the industry. He retired from the textile business in 2004.

Dan was born into the Presbyterian Church and served it in many areas and ways throughout his life. His deep, enduring Faith was always his driving force. As an active member at First Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, Dan served both as a Deacon and an Elder, and held numerous positions and involvements with many committees. He was recently active in the Hinderlite Bible Class. He was dedicated to the Wee Kirk Presbyterian Church in Linville during his summers. He also served as a member of The Board of Trustees of Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia.

Dan was an avid golfer and many of his friendships and adventures revolved around golf. He began playing with his father at a young age and later played on the Davidson College Golf Team. After marrying Joyce in 1962, they played as couples most Sunday afternoons. He played regularly at Gaston Country Club and enjoyed many summer rounds at Linville Golf Club. Over the years, he especially enjoyed taking friends to play Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey, where he was also a member. Golf was something that he also enjoyed with his son Daniel. In addition to golf in Gastonia and Linville, they made many trips to Arizona for golf instruction and fun, as well as experienced many memorable rounds in Scotland and Ireland. Golf to Dan was more about fellowship than it was about the game. He made many friends throughout his life on the golf course. Additionally, some of Dan’s most fond recent memories were playing golf in Linville with his granddaughter Emily and planning another golf adventure to Scotland, this time with both Daniel and his grandson Taylor.

Besides golf, Dan was also an accomplished bridge player. He competed in bridge tournaments regularly both with Joyce and with others. He achieved his “Life Master” bridge certification in 2014.

Dan is survived by his beloved wife of 60 years, Joyce Taylor LaFar, his son Daniel S. LaFar III (wife Virginia), and his grandchildren Emily and Taylor. Dan is also survived by his brother Marshall (wife Dottie), along with his two nephews Marshall LaFar Jr. and Will LaFar.

A memorial service will be held 2:00 PM on Friday, March 11, 2022 at First Presbyterian Church, 1621 E. Garrison Blvd, in Gastonia, with a reception to follow. Interment will be private.

Memorials may be offered in memory of Dan to First Presbyterian Church of Gastonia, 1621 E. Garrison Blvd., Gastonia, NC 28054 or to Crossnore Communities for Children, 100 D A R Dr, Crossnore, NC 28616.

Condolence messages may be shared at www.McLeanFuneral.com.

McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia is serving the family of Mr. LaFar.

Posted online on March 07, 2022

Published in Gaston Gazette

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.