December 11, 2013 - For many years, Delbert Lee Robinson took care of the Village of Oxford as a public servant who helped ensure the health, safety and welfare of its residents on a daily basis.
Robinson (click for larger version)
"He was very, very thorough and dedicated to what he did," said Jack LeRoy, former chief of both the fire and police departments. "He knew this town like the back of his hand. He knew exactly what was where."
Sadly, Robinson, who used to work as a part-time police officer and retired as superintendent of the village Department of Public Works (DPW) in the early 1990s, passed away on Monday, December 9, 2013. He was 81.
"He was really great to work with," said former village President Joe Bullen, who noted he relied heavily on Robinson's wealth of local knowledge concerning village infrastructure. "He was the go-to guy in those days."
Born in Promiseland, Arkansas on Sept. 14, 1932, Robinson came to Oxford in 1951.
He worked many jobs to support his family including positions with General Motors Pontiac Motor Division and American Aggregates.
But Robinson is best remembered for his roles in Oxford government. He worked for the police department for approximately 20 years and the DPW for 34 years. He spent the first 10 years with the DPW as a worker. He was promoted to superintendent and held that position for over 20 years.
"He had a good work ethic," LeRoy said. "He believed in giving his job his all. He gave the community his all."
As a department head, Bullen noted that Robinson was always fiscally responsible and ran things in an efficient manner.
"In some of those years, we really had to make every dime count," he said. "He could get things done with the least amount of (cost) and keep within the budget."
Above all, Bullen said the men who worked under Robinson respected him and his abilities.
DPW Superintendent Don Brantley will never forget Robinson because he was hired by him in 1986 as a part-time summer worker, then promoted to full-time in 1988.
"He was a good boss," Brantley said. "To me, he was easy to work for. He was a good man. I think he was a fair person."
Robinson was the first person to receive a key to the village who was not part of a mayor exchange program with another community. He received it, along with a gold watch, in 1984 for 25 years of loyal service.
At the time, Robinson told the Leader, "I could never foresee being in this position when I was a kid. I've been through some rough times, but my friends helped. I wouldn't trade my friends for money."
When he wasn't working, Robinson enjoyed hunting, fishing, country music and rooting for his beloved Detroit Tigers.
LeRoy recalled he was "a lot of fun."
"He was just a great character to know," he said. "He had a great sense of humor."
"He was always upbeat," Bullen said. "I never saw him really down. He was a positive person."
Robinson is survived by his five children – Jimmie (Deb), of Oxford; Debra (Richard) Riglin, of Canada; Randy, of Owosso; David, of Davison; and Rhonda (Dan) DeLoy, of Oxford. He's survived by 24 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren (with three on the way) and many nieces and nephews.
Robinson is also survived by many brothers-and-sisters-in-law including Ken Cox, Linda Robinson, Betty Langley, Evelyn (Wilburn) Alford, Leon (Chris) Langley, Gary (Sherry) Langley, Joe (Alice) Langley, Dorothy Pennington, Carl Langley and Pat Robinson.
He's preceded in death by his parents Herbert and Elvie, wife Stella (whom he had married in October 1950), brothers Eugene, Billy Joe and James, and sisters Christine, Mabel and Ruby.
Visitation will be at Modetz Funeral Home (100 E. Silverbell Rd.) in Orion Township on Friday, Dec. 13 from 3-9 p.m. Visitation will continue on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 9 a.m. until the funeral service begins at 10 a.m.
Duane Salswedel will officiate.
Robinson will be buried in the Oxford Township Cemetery on W. Burdick St.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.