- About Us
Robert E. RobbinsOctober 10, 1921 ~ November 11, 2017 (age 96)
Robert Edward Robbins passed away November 11, 2017 at the Soldier’s Home in Holyoke, MA. Born in Springfield in 1921 to Elizabeth Dinsdale and William A. Robbins, Bob was the next youngest of a large family of more than 12 children. Growing up in the North End, he attended local schools before beginning work at age 18 with Perkins Machine and Gear. For 32 years, Bob moved from sweeping floors to quality control director to aircraft sales manager before Perkins closed its doors in 1971. He retired in 1982 after working with firms in Bloomfield, CT and Agawam, MA.
In 1944 he began his military service in the US Army, where he trained with the US cavalry in Fort Riley, Kansas and then joined troops at Fort Ord in Monterey, California for advanced infantry training. Later that year, after a 42-day sea voyage that included his induction into the Court of Neptune as part of the ceremony of crossing the line (Equator), he was deployed to Burma with the 475th Infantry Regiment of the Mars Task Force, formerly known as “Merrill’s Marauders”. As a rifleman, Bob was part of the BAR gun team for his squad and began a 300 mile march through jungle terrain and over rugged mountains that rose to 7000 feet, carrying the heavy cartridge box and slipping between occupying Japanese troops to occupy and cut off the Burma Road, the main transportation route for fleeing enemy troops on their way to China. Stars and Stripes called these troops the “Jungle Ghosts” for their successful march through enemy territory. After the Burma mission, Bob was flown over the Hump into China to be assigned to the Chinese National Army as an instructor in their subsequent campaigns to drive the Japanese out of the Chinese mainland. Just one day after the Japanese surrender, he began the last stage of his service in Shanghai as a member of the military police stationed in the international city with its embassies, French and British social clubs and command posts. At the time of his honorable discharge in 1946, Bob had earned the Combat Infantry Badge, Good Conduct and Victory Medals as well as the Asiatic-Pacific theatre ribbon with four bronze campaign stars for the North Burma, Central Burma, Chinese Defensive and Chinese Offensive campaigns. Bob returned to his family and work at Perkins in the late spring of 1946. In 1948, he married Jeri Dykeman of Springfield. At the time of their marriage, Jeri was employed by Farmer’s Exchange and worked with Bob’s younger sister, Eileen. After renting on Miller Street in the Hungry Hill neighborhood and then College Street during the early 1950’s, where their three youngest children were born, they moved to East Springfield and the new neighborhood of West Canton Circle in 1961 where their daughter was born in 1965. Bob and Jeri celebrated 50 years of marriage there in 1998, just a few months before his dear wife’s passing the following year. Bob continued to live in this family home, indulging his love of woodwork in his basement shop, faithfully feeding the birds and tending his trees and shrubs. Over the years, the family spent many happy hours at their camp on Otis Reservoir which Bob had purchased in 1941 and where, together with his family he built a cottage. Bob enjoyed fishing with his children and hunting with his brother Bill and nephews. Always fond of old-time country music and cowboy tunes, Bob was known to sing his favorites on occasion and was joined by other family for cards and music over the years in Otis and at their homes in Springfield.
Bob was the last surviving member of his many Robbins siblings but is survived by his four children and their families: Geoff and Frosty Robbins of Springfield; Keith and Debi Robbins of Blandford, MA; Bob and Lynne Robbins of Jericho, VT; and Sandra Robbins and Chris Mason of Palmyra, PA. Bob is also survived by his 9 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren, and a loving niece Kay Sherry. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Soldiers Home Activities Fund, 110 Cherry St., Holyoke, MA 01040. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Nowak Funeral & Cremation Services, Springfield, MA. For full details, please visit nowakfuneral.com.