by Terry Rogers
On January 9, Charles Robinson, a resident of the Delaware Veteran’s Home, turned 100 years old. He celebrated this milestone with a party on January 11th, surrounded by four of his seven children, his 11 grandchildren and his 19 great-grandchildren. Although there were seven children born to Charles and his wife, three of them have since passed away.
“If you met my father, you would do nothing but laugh,” Mark Robinson, Charles’s son, said. “He has an amazing sense of humor. He is suffering from dementia, but even with his limited memory, he is one of the funniest men I know.”
Charles was born and raised in Wilmington, the son of Lafayette and Octavia Wright Robinson. He attended Howard High School. He married Martha J. Wright in Seaford on December 24, 1941 and joined the United States Army on January 28, 1942. He was stationed in Rhineland, France during the war where he worked as a draftsman.
After leaving the Army in 1945, Charles worked for the Wilmington Housing Authority doing maintenance but he was also a well-known commercial artist. According to his son, Charles was the second black commercial artist in Wilmington, working for a man who lettered signs, stores, vans and other commercial objects.
“Back then, nothing was graphic,” Mark said. “Everything he did, he did by hand. I even remember him painting Delaware State Police cars, watched him use special gold leaf paint to create the design on the cars.”
In addition to working for the Housing Authority, Charles was a preacher. He first preached at a church in New Jersey before transferring to Bethel AME, where he served the congregation for many years. After his wife died, Charles lived alone for about six years before moving in with one of his sons.
“My brother became very ill and ended up passing away,” Mark explained. “It was then that we learned my father was suffering from dementia and I began looking for a place for him to be well taken care of. I am a Vietnam veteran myself and I had never heard of the Delaware Veteran’s Home until someone suggested it for my dad. Once I visited here and began talking to the staff, I knew it was the perfect place for my father. It is an amazing place and my father is very happy here.”
Mark explained that they kept the celebration short so that it would not tire his father significantly, but having his entire family surrounding him on this special occasion was one of the best gifts Charles could have gotten. Senator Wilson and Representatives Charles Postles and Bryan Shupe presented Robinson with a Tribute from the State of Delaware, noting his service to his country and to the City of Wilmington as a preacher.
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