Beloved pastor left lasting legacy

8 years ago
By Joseph Cyr
Staff Writer
PT NE LEON ROBINSON 23 16 17806585Contributed photo
SELECTMAN REMEMBERED — Leon Robinson, shown in this undated photo with his wife Bonnie, was a selectman for the town of Stacyville for 44 years. Robinson died May 24 after a battle with cancer.  

STACYVILLE — Pastor Leon J. Robinson, longtime member of the town’s board of selectmen, with four decades of service to the community, was someone that residents simply refused to let go.

Robinson retired from his post as a selectmen after 33 years of service back in 2004, but that same year, residents re-elected him to office as a write-in candidate, and continued to do so for the next 11 years.

“The townspeople just wouldn’t let him retire,” said his daughter Rhonda Murray. “They kept writing his name in, and he kept serving. That’s the reason he stayed … because people wanted him to.”

He attended selectmen meetings up through March 16, before he finally had to stop for health reasons. Robinson, 76, died May 24, at his home after a short battle with cancer.

Shirley Sides, town clerk for Stacyville, described Leon as a wealth of information for all things relating to the town.

“When I came to the office in 2005, Leon was very helpful,” Sides said. “He rarely missed a selectmen’s meeting until he got sick.”

Sides said Leon would come into the office, sometimes on a daily basis and if two days went by without seeing him, the staff became worried something had happened.

“He would always stop in to see how things were going and ask if we needed him for anything,” Sides said. “He was so wise and very kind. He was a good listener and he never seemed to get stressed out about anything.”

Local residents would often stop into the town office just to visit with him, if they saw his car in the parking lot, she added. Leon was approached to run for the state legislature, but his declining health had become an issue and he was unable to comply.

“I never heard anyone say anything bad about that man,” Sides added.

Born June 3, 1939 in Stacyville, Robinson was the son of Sylvester and Mildred (Cullen) Robinson. He was a veteran of the U.S. Army serving during the Berlin crisis. He also retired as a saw filer for Sherman Lumber for 32 years and served as a Methodist minister in the Danforth and Mattawamkeag communities for 28 years.

He was introduced to the woman who would become his wife through his mother. Bonnie and Leon met in 1961 and were married in 1962.

He retired in 2012 from pastoring at the Mattawamkeag United Methodist Church, and much like the selectmen’s position, the parishioners refused to let him go.

“We didn’t want to let him go either,” Murray said. “The only thing that stopped my dad was his illness over the last two months. He was too ill to function as a community advocate and the pastor at that time.”

Robinson suffered from cancer in his mandible, despite never smoking or using chewing tobacco, the family said. He discovered he had cancer after having a tooth pulled in February of 2015.

By the time he was able to schedule surgery to remove the cancerous growth, the disease had started to spread to other parts of his body.

Robinson enjoyed all aspects of the great outdoors, especially hunting, fishing and gardening, spending time with his family including his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“Leon knew every part of every river there was,” Bonnie said. “Back when the children were young we camped all over. He loved going on three-day fishing excursions. He was also an avid reader.”

“Dad had such a love for community,” Murray added. “The four things he loved the most were his family, faith, community and his country.”