Tribute to Jim Robinson

Facebook tributes lauded the late Jim Robinson, submariner and founder of Labella, for his love, helpfulness and friendship.

Author Kimberly Woodhouse and her young family once lived in El Dorado. She wrote, “More than two decades ago, Jim was a huge factor in getting help for our daughter when she was a baby and the doctors were trying to figure out her rare condition. Not only did he do an abundant amount of research, but he contacted people and helped get her very first cooling vest which was a life-saver for our toddler. He was her champion from then on.”

“Joshua and Kayla both loved to go to LaBella’s. He would cool it down so we could go in and Jim would make them cheese toast and cut up tomatoes and black olives (because that was what they wanted). He would give them fudge and love on them. Every. Single. Time. He would tell Josh the funniest stories and show him the coolest toys. And when we moved away, every time we returned, he welcomed us like family. Thanks in good part to him and all his relentless pursuit of help for a little baby all those years ago.”

Laurie Lala Russell recalled, “he’d get teary eyed sharing military stories with me. I can’t count the times he’d slip something extra into my bags when I’d shop at La Bella’s and wouldn’t let me pay for it. He spoiled my son when he was little by giving him candy, fudge, or some kind of treat after I’d tell Brandon he couldn’t have it!”

Jim would put his finger to his mouth and say “Ssshhhhh, don’t tell Mama!” very loudly, I should add, so I’d know what he was doing. He was like a mischievous Santa.”

Others spoke fondly of him as a former submariner. He attended the reunions and at least once provided the means for another to attend. Lance Alderman wrote of “Robbie,” Jim Robinson’s nickname from his Navy days, “Robbie was an EM (Electrician’s Mate) who served on one of my submarines – the USS Darter (SS-576). He was significant enough to the boat’s reunions that the Facebook page for the boat changed their cover photo to one of him at a reunion. Robbie served while the boat was deployed in the Western Pacific and Vietnam during the War.

“While I did not serve with Robbie at the same time on the Darter, he was a fellow Darter ‘shipmate’ that befriended me over the years at reunions. We held more recent reunions at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum … on the Arkansas River. Robbie had a delicatessen and catering service so he would load up his equipment, food, do the cooking, stock the bar, etc., for reunions and he made them memorable.

“Last year he was battling cancer but insisted on still catering the reunion which for him was a labor of love for his brother submariners. His old captain said ‘Robbie is the heart of Darter’ while another of Robbie’s old shipmate perhaps summed it up best: ‘A man only has so many shipmates and when one passes, there just are not any replacements.’

In those years when the storm clouds of war were brewing on the horizon of history, this Shipmate stood the watch … so that we, our families and our fellow countrymen could sleep soundly in safety each and every night knowing that a sailor stood the watch.

Today we are here to say ‘Shipmate the watch stands relieved, Robbie’ – you can now rest since your shipmates have the watch and we wish you fair winds and following seas on the final voyage.”