Richard Douglas Robison, Sr.
July 18, 1943. –. June 6, 2020
A good son, husband, father, grandfather; and also a proud lifelong Democrat and pipe fitter Union member, certified welding inspector, mentor, veteran, friend, talented dancer, track runner and football player, champion Navy diver, fast pitch pitcher with a crazy drop ball, pipe welder, teacher, coach, avid reader, activist, gun collector, skeet shooter, ammo reloader enthusiast, fisherman, blacksmith student of Wayne Joplin, lover of animals and man, creative cusser, possessor of a million “words to live by,” ( “practice does not make perfect-perfect practice makes perfect,” “You’re no body until you become a welder,” ...,) ornery cuss, and a straight shooter, big hearted and fierce fighter for his loved ones and the underdog, and someone who would do anything he could for anyone in need. He was a man’s man, strong, masculine, athletic. A man loved and admired by many. A man who loved his family deeply and told them and showed them in the way he lived his amazing life.
On a scorching hot Sunday afternoon in July 1943, Alberta Jean Mosher Robison gave birth to baby Dickie. He came into this world on Colorado Street in Coffeyville at the home of his beloved grandmother Hattie. His father, Verla Almanzo Robison was in the Marine Corps, stationed at Camp Pendleton, CA and within a year would be involved and wounded in the bloody Battle of Saipan.
Dickie was surrounded by many women at the beginning of this life. Surrounded by his beloved young mother, grandmothers, whom he adored, doting aunts, and many cousins both related and bonus. Later, dance partners, girlfriends, a wife, daughters, and granddaughters.
When his dad came home from the war, Dick traveled the country with his mom and pipefitter welder dad, working on various jobs throughout the country, but he was still surrounded by close friends and family members who also traveled and worked on jobs with his dad.
When he was school-age he attended a lot of different schools in a lot of different states— five different schools in the third grade.
In the late 1950s his dad became business manager of Local 339 in Coffeyville and Dick attended local schools where he was active in Field Kindley High School track, football, and the Kindley Kavalcade.
Graduating in 1961, Dick spent the summer in Aurora, Illinois, with his Uncle Grant and Aunt Colleen Robison and his cousins Taylor and Glennie. He worked at a radiator shop and during his off-work time he would ride his cousins on his shoulders to the ice cream store for a favorite treat. His cousin Linda Heckman Erickson also lived in Aurora and the four cousins formed a close bond that lasted throughout the years. Dick had a loving relationship with all his cousins on his mother’s side as well.
He attended Coffeyville Junior College, as it was called at that time, but he decided to join the navy in January 1962 and did his basic training at Great Lakes, Illinois, and then spent a year in Pensacola, Florida, in Naval communications training. He had found his calling and loved the navy life. The remaining three years of active duty was at Kamiseya, Japan, and on board aircraft carriers in the Sea of Japan, the Philippines, and the Gulf of Tonkin of Vietnam. He received and sent messages through Morse Code and for many years after his military service kept his hand in practicing the “code.”
Upon his discharge from the US Navy in 1966, he followed in his father‘s footsteps and in January 1967 and became a welder and a proud member of local 339 now Local 441 of Wichita. He loved traveling for work and never met a stranger. His first welding job was in Middletown, Ohio, and he worked there until spring. He then went to work on a job on a remote mountain in southeast Missouri.
On his 24th birthday he introduced himself to the secretary who was working on that same job, and the rest is history. Less than a year later on June 1, 1968, he married that secretary, Belinda Savage. Just before Dick’s passing, he and Belinda were able to celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary. During their marriage, Dick and and Belinda had three amazing and very unique children who he loved with all his heart. Two beautiful daughters who became nurses, Melanie Jean of Coffeyville, and the late Rebecca June, a son Richard Douglas, Jr., an intelligence analyst, and four amazing granddaughters, Murran and Ainsley McKellips and Maggie and Adeen Drysdale.
Dick was a connoisseur of all things Braums. He loved his Braums homestyle vanilla ice cream; he only drunk Braums whole milk. He insisted on Wonder Classic white bread—lightly toasted—for his BLTs, heavy on the Braums thin sliced very crispy bacon, a light smearing of Kraft Miracle Whip, and easy on the lettuce. A favorite was ham and pinto beans with jalapeño corn bread, and don’t forget a side of fried red potatoes; he snacked on sardines with mustard and Club crackers, honey roasted peanuts mixed with a can of deluxe mixed nuts, and German chocolate cake. He enjoyed his fair share of beverages: morning coffee with three creams and six sugars, his afternoon Japanese green tea; 3 sugars, and his ritual evening drink of a shot of Pendleton— exactly 7 ice cubes—and a Mexican Coca Cola or an RC Cola if he was out of Coke, all stirred up in one of his two favorite large green ice tea glasses. He also had to have balsamic vinegar in his chili and balsamic on his spinach, Brooks spicy catchup was a must have, and he made his famous trash bag salad that he literally mixed in a trash bag and shared with neighbors.
His Fourth of July get togethers were memorable as Dick‘s favorite celebration was to put off a gigantic string of firecrackers. The kids would fight over who got to climb the big elm tree and tie the fireworks high in the tree and run the rest down the driveway. (The wives usually groaned when Dick brought out “his Independence Day highlight,”) but the kids and men were delighted and cheered him on enthusiastically, which only encouraged him!
Dick wore a few different hats—literally—his canvas Indiana Jones hat he bought while visiting Mt. Rushmore, colorful welding caps, ball caps— and figuratively, Family guy, Welder, and during the Reagan Recession when there wasn’t a welding job to be had, he went to cosmetology school and also became a massage therapist. As luck would have it and much to his relief, when he completed his training, he got a call for a welding job and continued on with his welding career.
He completed the five-year instructor training programs for his union attending classes at Purdue University and the University of Michigan. There he met many fellow students who became lifelong friends including his two great friends from Canada, Laurie Robichaud the late Paul Beaudreau, and he enjoyed visits to Canada and Paul’s visit to Coffeyville.
Dick worked at the trade on nuclear and coal fired powerhouses, various refineries, booster stations and many other facilities in his long welding career. In 1988 he worked in Guadalajara, Mexico, as a welding inspector for an international company. In 2000 he began teaching welding night classes at Coffeyville Community College. Two years later he was hired full-time to teach pipe welding. He built the program and was so proud when it became a five-instructor program with satellite classes in area towns. Prouder still as three of his former students became CCC welding instructors and more students became instructors at other places.
After his retirement, he and Belinda pursued crappie fishing avidly. Dick would have the “fishing wagon” ready to go when Belinda got off work and head for their favorite spot at the Big Hill overlook and fish until dark. On weekends they headed out early in the morning and fished till they dropped.
Dick also became an avid gardener after retirement. He planted an acre or two with various veggies, but his passion for Black Diamond watermelons was his favorite thing to grow along with a field of turnips, which he invited anyone to “come help yourself,” Armenian cucumbers he gave away by the five gallon bucketfuls, and burgundy okra—yes, who could forget the long hundred foot rows of okra, the field of cantaloupes, dozens of cabbages, hot, hot peppers, and many varieties of tomatoes, mostly to give away, which gave him great joy to share the bounty of his garden. He was proudest of his crop of huge sweet potatoes in the five-pound range that he shared with family, friends, and neighbors.
In addition to his 53 year membership in the Steamfitters Union, he was a member of the American Welding Society, Keystone Lodge No. 102, AM&FM, Coffeyville VFW and American Legion, Montgomery County Democrat Club, First Southern Baptist Church, American Welding Society, and a lifetime member of PTA.
Dick slipped away in his sleep in the early morning hours of Saturday, June 6th. A fitting date as not only was it the anniversary of the WWII D-Day landing at Normandy, but also his late father-in-law Carl Savage’s birthday who was a medic at the D-Day battle on his 27th birthday. Being that both soldier and sailor were such patriotic Americans who served their country proudly, it seems only fitting that Dick’s death would be remembered on this momentous date, along with a man he loved dearly and who returned that love.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved daughter and son-in- law, Rebecca and Andrew Drysdale.
He is survived by his wife Belinda, daughter Melanie Savage of Coffeyville, son Richard Jr., of Belton, Missouri, granddaughters Murran and Ainsley McKellips and Maggie and Adeen Drysdale, former son-in-law Hank McKellips, aunt and uncle Colleen and Grant Robison, his Missouri relatives and in-laws, cousins and many friends.
Because of the COVID-19 virus and the risk to vulnerable family members, his family will hold a private, immediate family-only service with a memorial celebration and inurnment to be held at a later time when restrictions allow for a larger gathering. Visitation will be held at Ford-Wulf-Bruns Chapel on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 from 9:00am to 5:00pm and on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks you to donate to Coffeyville Community College (CCC) Welding Technology Scholarship Fund. Dick retired as lead welding instructor there and was very proud of the pipe welding program he built; he was so proud of the many students he taught during his years at CCC. He delighted in hearing from his former students and learning of their accomplishments. He would be honored by your donation as it would continue to help the lives of others, just like he always did.