By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
It has definitely been a horrific year for Gwendolyn Parker-Robinson after the passing of her husband Paul Anthony Robinson, licensed owner and funeral director of House of Robinson Funeral Home. Paul Robinson passed away after returning from officiating a funeral service, which unbeknown to him was his last service.
Employees of the business found him on the ground non-responsive and called for an ambulance when they were not immediately able to revive him. Doctors told his wife they were not able to explain what caused Robinson to collapse. That was in early February of this year.
Eight months later, the Gary Fire Department responded to a fire call at House of Robinson Funeral Home located at 1900 W. 15th Avenue, where it was engulfed in flames Friday evening.
Operating for over 28 years, Robinson’s wife said she was notified about the fire by Rev. Corey Jackson, pastor of New Shiloh Baptist Church while she was home in the Calumet Township area. The church is located across the street from the business. She said, “When Rev. Jackson called to tell me the funeral home was on fire, I didn’t believe it. I thought he was talking about one of the neighborhood houses behind the funeral home being on fire or the garage that sits high up on a hill behind the funeral home catching on fire once again.”
Robinson said it took her 20 minutes to get to the funeral home and when she arrived fire trucks were there, policemen, ambulances and people standing around in the street watching. She said, “It was about 6:03 p.m. when another employee called me to tell me the funeral home was on fire, but by that time I was on 19th & Grant Street. I got there at 6:25 p.m.”
Robinson said the funeral home is not completely destroyed. The cost of the damage has not yet been determined because it is under investigation. She said, “Nothing was able to be saved, but plans are to hear from the insurance and to rebuild. The phones are still working and we are still in business. This just gives me hope more than ever to keep my husband’s legacy alive.”