It is with great sadness that I’m writing to tell you of the sudden and unexpected passing on Monday of Bill Robbins, our support group founder. Those of us who saw Bill at last Saturday’s support group meeting were happy to see him looking so well and it’s hard to believe he’s gone. We will miss him so much.
We will gather to celebrate Bill’s life
on Saturday, May 31 at 1:30 PM
Location: 3rd floor bistro at the Sunrise at Fair Oaks, 3750 Joseph Siewick Drive, Fairfax
No RSVP needed and casual dress is fine.
Also, in lieu of flowers the family has suggested a donation to Parkinson’s in Bill’s name.
Donna and Bill M. have kindly sent me their remembrances of Bill, and Donna also sent an article from a PFNCA newsletter when Bill was named Volunteer of the Year in 2006. Please keep reading . . .
How do I put down in words how all of us feel about the sudden passing of Bill Robbins?
Our first thoughts are with Bill’s family. When you write about someone in a eulogy, you try to use words that give meaning to their life. That’s easy to do with Bill, because he spent so much of his time showing us exactly what it means to live a life of purpose. Bill not only founded our Fair Oaks Support Group, but he stayed with it, offering his advice, his experience, and his great, martini-dry sense of humor. When he stepped down as leader for health reasons, he could have exited the stage. But Bill stayed active. He kept at it, giving his advice and encouragement to all of us who needed help in how to live with Parkinson’s.
Bill Robbins had an important message for us to learn. His message was this: I spent a lot of time with Bill at last Saturdays’ support meeting. As usual, he was armed and ready to talk about the game of baseball. He could rattle off statistics, tell you who was injured, anything you needed to know about the game. But what he was really trying to tell me was that there is more to life than our Parkinson’s.
That was Bill Robbins’ message, his gift to us. Our lives, whether it’s baseball or whatever, are infinitely greater and much more powerful than Parkinson’s will ever be.
Bill was active in raising awareness and funds for PFNCA and other organizations. He ran races, including the Marine Marathon and participated in eight fund raisers in four years. One was a 150 mile bike ride to raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy. He was a role model to his sons, who often joined him in his efforts. In 2004, Bill and his 3 sons signed up to run the Baltimore Marathon relay event, with proceeds to go to the National Parkinson’s Foundation. Each would run between 6 and 7 miles, with Bill running the final leg. But after Bill injured his foot running in a race the month before, his wife, Lola (64 at the time ) ran in his place, while Bill cheered them on.
Bill thought exercise was like the “ fountain of youth, or medicine for Parkinson’s and made a big difference in his efforts to stay active”, said his son, Tracy.
Bill also started an internet chat room for people with Parkinson’s, who may not be able to attend support meetings.
When I joined the group in 2003–04, it was called the Sully Parkinson’s Support Group and Bill was the leader. We were a small but active group, with only one other woman member. Bill was still working in 2004 , and this is a quote from him, showing his positive and caring outlook:
“There’s no true answer to life. You just live it and make the most of it. That’s why I’m still working. It keeps my grey matter thinking and my feet moving. I plan to make a difference before I check out, and I want to make people in Fairfax County aware that there is a lot of help out there for people with Parkinson’s.”
Most of the members of the Sully Parkinson’s support group lived in Centerville or Manassas and chose to relocate to a closer meeting site. Bill and I decided to stay at the Fair Oaks location and rebuild. Thanks to his mentoring, advice and support over the last ten years, we have grown into a large and vibrant support group. We will miss Bill’s presence and friendship, but will remember him well and follow his example of living our best life, while reaching out to others who face challenges.
Bill Robbins Named Volunteer of the Year
(from PFNCA newsletter, Parkinson’s Update, Interim Fall 2006)
At the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner, held August 9th, Bill Robbins was recognized as PFNCA’s Volunteer of the Year for 2006. Bill’s contributions to the Foundation is an inspiration to all of us. He leads the Fair Oaks Support Group, chairs the website committee, moderates the online support group, participates on the Running Festival Committee, and even found time to campaign for the Community Member position on the board. We owe Bill a great debt of thanks and extend to him our warmest congratulations on his receipt of this We also extend our thanks to all the volunteers who have given of their time and talent throughout the past year. Our organization could not effectively serve our community without you.