Homeland resident Mary Robinson: A blessed life


Ask Mary Robinson one of her favorite gospel songs, and she’s happy to sing it for you.

“Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine,” Mary sings from her home in Homeland’s Skilled Care. Her daughter, Delphine Walker, sings harmony.

Mary believes that God brought her to Homeland, where she is a regular presence at activities and a beloved friend to many.

“I know she’s getting well taken care of,” Delphine said. “The people love her, and she loves them.”

From her bright room filled with family photos, Mary reflects on a life devoted to family and God, serving her church and being a mom to all.

Mary was born in Philadelphia, the oldest of nine children. Her father was a World War I veteran and worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps. She enjoyed attending church, including Sunday services that stretched into the afternoon. It’s where she learned to play the piano – self-taught, without lessons.

Mary’s mother was busy raising the kids, with considerable help from Mary. Her mom would say, “I don’t have to worry about anything while Mary is there because she takes care of everything.”

And Mary would think, “As soon as I get to 18, I’m going to get out of here.” Then again, those early responsibilities nurtured her growth into a reliable adult.

At age 18, she did exactly as planned: Mary married Jamaican immigrant George Robinson – and then introduced her mother to her new son-in-law.

“My mother really loved my husband,” Mary said. “He was a good man. He was a good father.”

In 1949, Mary and George left Philadelphia for Harrisburg. She didn’t consider it a culture shock.

“I liked Harrisburg because it was smaller,” she said. “Philadelphia was nice, but it’s a big city.”

George worked for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as an auditor. Mary devoted herself to their four kids, volunteering for everything from helping with Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts to chaperoning school trips.

“They kept me busy, going all the time,” Mary said. “They would volunteer me for things sometimes. They didn’t even ask me, but they knew I enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun.”

Everyone at school knew her mom, Delphine said.

“She was ‘Mom’ to everybody,” Delphine recalls. “We didn’t mind sharing.” Her parents included the kids in everything, she adds. There were country drives, outings for ice cream, excursions to watch planes taking off, or visits to museums.

“All the other kids used to say, ‘Where are you going? Ask your mom if we can go with you,’” Delphine said with a laugh. “There wasn’t a whole lot that we had, but we felt rich just because of the love and support they gave us. They were always looking for ways to enrich our lives that, now when we think about it, made us what we are today.”

The church continued to play a central role in family life. Mary played piano, sang, and taught Sunday school. George was an elder. During services, the kids sat by themselves in a pew. Usually, they behaved well, and if they did start to act up, their mom, sitting at the piano, would stop it with just a glance over her shoulder.

Even after their kids were grown, Mary and George adopted and raised a niece. They were married for 64 years until his death 10 years ago. Mary came to Homeland in November 2021. Knowing of Homeland’s reputation for excellence, the family felt there was only one place for her, and a room opened at just the right time.

Mary hangs a calendar of Homeland activities on her wall and attends nearly everything offered, from music programs to weekly Bible study.

“I love this place,” Mary said. “People are very friendly, and everybody is nice. Whatever I need, they’re right there.”

She can even practice on the chapel piano when she wants to, maybe playing and singing another favorite hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”

“God has blessed me,” Mary said. “I’m very thankful. I’m very blessed. God is the love of my life. He’s first in my life and then my family. I enjoyed my life and family and felt like I was the queen.”

“They call her the queen here, too,” Delphine adds.

Mary nods. “They sure do.”