Patrons who rode the buses to area casinos adored Anita Robinson, says her son, Gary, who operates a bus company, Best Bet Tours.
She signed them in, and she and her husband, George, would run bingo games on the bus for the riders traveling to and from the casinos.
Before that, she was a librarian at Westwood Junior High in St. Louis Park, where she was always ready to help students with book recommendations or their assignments.
Robinson died April 13 at the Jones-Harrison Residence in Minneapolis from complications of COVID-19, her son said. She was 94. She was preceded in death by George, who died in 2013.
Born in Virginia, Minn., she grew up on the Iron Range. Her father was from Lithuania, her mother from Poland, and they immigrated to the United States and the Range where mining was booming and where a relative worked. Her father, Abe, ran a barbershop in Virginia for 60 years and her mother, Rose, was a homemaker.
She graduated from Roosevelt High School in Virginia and from the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities with a degree in library science. She worked for a time as a librarian in Virginia.
Her brother, Howard Gordon of Homewood, Ill., recalls how Anita, who was six years older, helped him as he struggled with an English class.
“You had to write a theme [paper] every week,” he recalled. “I hadn’t written one. I depended on her help. She’d help me formulate the themes.”
Back in Minneapolis, she met her future husband, a World War II Navy veteran. An ordnance engineer, he spent his career at Honeywell Corp. and together they raised their sons: Jay, now a neurologist in Kansas City, Mo., and Gary.
“Best mom ever,” is the way Gary remembers her.
The family moved to a house in St. Louis Park. In 1961, she was sitting out front and got to chatting with Ruth Schloff, who was out walking with her son. The two women became lifelong friends. “Our personalities clicked,” Schloff said. “We were pretty liberal.” They did volunteer work, their husbands became friends and the two couples went to movies and vacationed together.
In 1969, Robinson went to work at the junior high library, where she was fondly remembered for her years of service until her retirement.
“She knew every book in that library,” recalls Susie Sklar Goldstein of Minnetonka, a student helper in the library. “She shared her knowledge and her love of reading and love of books. When she smiled, she just lit up the library.”
A rabbi from Temple Israel led the funeral over Zoom.