A local pioneer for women’s rights who helped create two long-time organizations in Lodi has passed away.
Patricia “Pat” Robison, 91, died of natural causes on Aug. 27 after suffering a stroke.
A native of Chico, Robison moved to Lodi in 1955 with her husband Glenn, and soon became an early member of the Lodi Community Art Center.
Robison earned a degree in fine arts from University of California, Berkeley in 1950, and over the years, dabbled in enameled jewelry, stained glass and batik — an Indonesian technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth.
Joanne Donovan was a lifelong friend of Robison’s. Her friend always had an artistic talent, Donovan said, whether it was creating art or selecting it for home decor.
“She had the most wonderful eye for arranging art,” Donovan said. “Not only could she pick beautiful stuff out, but she framed her own photos and pictures. She and Glenn had a beautiful house that pre-dated many homes, with large open spaces and giant footprints.”
The two women met at a summer camp when both were 10 years old, and Donovan later moved to Lodi with her husband in 1972. When she first arrived, Donovan said, she contacted Robison to find out where to take her sons for haircuts, and how to get involved with the local branch of the American Association of University Women, the organization that encourages the educational and leadership development of women.
Robison helped found the Lodi branch of the AAUW in 1959, and served as its president on several occasions, including 1972 when Donovan and her family came to town.
In 1990, Robison and fellow AAUW members Lois Borchardt and Doris McCaughan wrote a grant for funds from the organization to open the Women’s Center — Youth and Family Services satellite office in Lodi. Four years later, the trio were presented with the Susan B. Anthony Award as Women of Achievement in San Joaquin County.
Sheila Dunn was a volunteer with the Women’s Center, and said all three women were her mentors. Robison was very service-oriented, focused on educating the community about women’s rights and becoming actively involved with a number of civic organizations, including the League of Women Voters, Dunn said.
“She was very involved with the AAUW book sales,” she said. “We would collect books all year, and then have big sales at people’s homes or at Lakewood Mall. People all over Lodi got mad when we stopped doing it, but we just got too old and tired to do it.”
Proceeds from the book sales supported school and camp scholarships for young women. When the sales were discontinued, the AAUW carried on with an annual garage sale to continue supporting aid for young women.
Christy Reinold moved to Lodi in 1983, and one of the first things she did was join the local AAUW. There, she served on a number of committees with Robison and came to know her fairly well.
“Through AAUW I came to admire her and respect her,” she said. “If you said something, she would always listen. And she didn’t always say much, but when she did, you knew it was something important.”
Outside of her public service efforts, Robison enjoyed nature, particularly Yosemite National Park and the Northern California coast.
She and her husband were also members of the Sierra Club, as well as the San Joaquin Historical Society, where she served as a docent at the museum at Micke Grove Park.
“She loved to travel, and was interested in people and just life in general,” Dunn said. “She was one of those gals we were just lucky to have in Lodi.”
Robison was a Master Gardener, and Donovan said she loved to spend time tending to her collection of bonsai trees.
“I don’t think there was anything Pat couldn’t do,” she said. “From canning to painting to sewing — you name it, she could do it.”
Robison is survived by her three sons, Scott of Lodi, Dan of Woodbridge, and Doug (with wife Barbara) of Irvine; four grandchildren, Alissa, Andrew, Bonnie and Laura; and three great-grandchildren, Joseph, Lily and Magnus.
No memorial service is planned.