By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
It was his last funeral. After the mourners put their loved one in the ground and returned home, Paul Anthony Robinson, owner of House of Robinson Funeral Home of Gary went back to his funeral home. There, he sat in his car, closed his eyes and joined the many souls whom he dressed up to look their best.
Robinson left this world peacefully on Wednesday, February 24. He was 57.
The son of the late Franklin and Florine Cato Robinson, Paul was born April 15, 1958 in New York City. Paul professed a hope in Christ at an early age and was baptized at Fern Hope Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Robinson moved to Gary at a young age with his mother, where he attended Gary Public Schools. While attending Horace Mann High School, Paul met the founder of the musical group “Ripples and Waves.” The group was started by Elby Woodard in 1968. Paul joined the group in 1972 as a keyboardist and was a master showman. He graduated from Horace Mann in 1975. At Paul’s surprise 50th birthday party given by his wife Gwendolyn, the group reunited for a grand one-night stand.
Paul graduated from Vincennes University School of Mortuary Science in 1977. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Tennessee State University. He attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and was commissioned an officer in the United States Army and attained the rank of Captain in the Army Reserve.
Robinson began his career as a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer. He formed Enols and Robinson Funeral Directors with his former partner Russell Enols. Later, he became the sole owner and changed the name to House of Robinson Funeral Directors.
In 1994, Robinson formulated a program to warn the youth in the City of Gary of the consequences of their choices in life called “This Could Be You” which placed a full-length mirror in a casket. The program and seminar drew national attention from the news affiliates BET television and Jet magazine in Chicago. Robinson traveled throughout the country using this life changing informational tool, which is still in existence today.
He was a gifted and talented embalmer and restorative artist; his services were appreciated by the families he served and his colleagues in Greater Northwest Indiana, the City of Chicago and throughout the nation. He was a noted speaker in the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association, giving seminars on embalming and restorative art technique for his colleagues and mortuary students. He also served as past President of the Illinois Select Funeral Directors and Morticians Association in 1997.
In 2006, he helped reestablish the Indiana Select Funeral Directors and Morticians Association where he served as Vice President. He was a member of the local chapter of Tennessee State University Alumni Association and served as past President of the TolleMann Association in the City of Gary. In addition, he was an ordained Deacon at Trinity United Church of Christ under Pastor Emeritus Reverend Jeremiah Wright of Chicago. He united with the New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church of Gary where he served as Deacon and a member of the male chorus and its Brotherhood.
Robinson married his childhood sweetheart, the former Gwendolyn Parker. His wife said, “Paul never met a stranger, he mentored many students over the years that are now successful funeral practitioners throughout the country. Of the many families he served throughout the years, he endeared himself to them and they became as family.”
He leaves to cherish his memory; the love of his life wife Gwendolyn, daughter; Annette, sons; Paul II, Phillip, and Raymond, brother in laws; Joseph (Janis) Parker Jr. and Donald (Anita) Parker, uncle; Adolphus Cato, Aunt Barbara Gill, niece; Makara Parker, nephews; Joseph Parker III and Donald Parker, Jr., the staff of the House of Robinson Funeral Directors, and many cousins and friends.
Funeral services will be held Monday, March 7 at the New Shiloh Baptist Church in Gary beginning at 11 a.m. Officiated by his pastor Rev. Corey Jackson. Visitation will be Sunday, March 6 from 3 to 8 p.m. with family hour from 6 to 8 p.m.