Community Says Farewell To Beloved Charles Robinson

How do people say goodbye to a man whose presence was gentle and yet unforgettable?
   Mourners still racked with grief struggled to find a way to do just that on Friday as Elizabethton Star publisher Charles Robinson was eulogized at a funeral service in the First Baptist Church of Elizabethton.
   Only 48 years old, Robinson died early Wednesday morning after suffering an apparent heart attack on Tuesday afternoon. He left a wife, three children and a space in the lives of hundreds who knew and loved him.
   Charlie Robinson is survived by his wife, Angela; his three children, Joshua, Jeremy and Jessica; his parents, Frank and Ann Robinson; and his sister, Carol Goodwin. His father Frank became publisher of the Star in 1955, the same year his son was born. Frank Robinson bought the newspaper in 1977 with Charlie taking over as publisher three years later.
   Throughout the week former Star employees sent condolences by telephone and e-mail expressing their sympathies for the Robinson family.
   Star employees - many of whom had worked for Robinson since he became publisher in 1980 - have spent the past week dealing with equal parts shock, disbelief and immense sadness for a man who touched their lives in a variety of ways.
   While family and friends shed tears of grief over his loss, the funeral service included laughter in remembrance of a man whose smile and style captured his character - generous, gracious, and elegant.
   Close friends including Tom Whitehead, Dan Cogan and Sid Davidson spoke emotionally of Robinson's love for his family, children and the community where he gave his time. They also remembered their personal experiences with Robinson's humility and passion for what he loved.
   Whitehead recalled Robinson's well-known enjoyment of golf and the good-natured rivalries he kept with friends who accompanied him on the links.
   "Charlie said he would rather take one dollar from Sid Davidson than a thousand dollars from Tiger Woods," said Whitehead.
   Cogan urged mourners to remember the laughter and joy Robinson could bring with a mere word or a look. He recalled Robinson's reaction to witnessing a driver who was attempting to park a brand new newspaper delivery truck back the vehicle into a large metal trash dumpster near the Star office.
   "Charlie said, 'That's far enough', and he turned around and headed toward the Covered Bridge," Cogan said. "When I caught up with him he said, 'I should've bought a truck with bigger mirrors.'"
   Hundreds of mourners stood in a receiving line for well over an hour on Thursday to pay their respects to the family during Robinson's memorial service at Tetrick Funeral Home. Flowers and notes of condolences poured in from media outlets around the region, businesses across Elizabethton and local dignitaries.
   Police blocked intersections along West G Street to accommodate a convoy of vehicles traveling in the funeral procession to Happy Valley Memorial Park where Robinson was laid to rest Friday afternoon.
   Under bright sunshine at a gravesite encircled by flowers too numerous to count, Charlie Robinson's loved ones said their final goodbyes to a man who led by example, gave without keeping score, nurtured without force, lived with grace, and loved without end.
   Charlie, we miss you and we love you.