It was a somber day in the community as the “first lady” of Grambling State University, Doris Robinson, wife of legendary GSU football coach Eddie G. Robinson, passed away Wednesday morning at the age of 96.
Until Coach Rob’s death in 2007, she had been her husband’s confidante, speaking coach, fashion adviser, and best friend. And until her death on Sept. 16, 2015, she was his most loyal fan.
“I know that Coach Rob had an illustrious career and I know that he couldn’t have done it without her,” said Dr. Willie Larkin, Grambling State University president. “She was an inspiration to him, she supported him, and encouraged him.
“She was almost as big as he was.”
News of Robinson’s death spread quickly on social media Wednesday. She will be remembered as an icon in the Grambling community, leaving behind lasting memories.
“[My] best memory of her was when I first went to Grambling,” said James “Shack” Harris, a Rob-coached player who was one of the first Black quarterbacks to play in the NFL. “I went by the house to meet her. She was very friendly and carried on a conversation with all the freshmen.
“Later when I left Grambling, I used to call and talk to coach Rob late at night but most of the time she would answer because coach Rob would be busy,” said Harris. “I was very impressed because she knew it was me.”
Robinson was born Doris Inez Mott on May 2, 1919, in Wilson, Louisiana, where she spent her early childhood years. She came from a family of educators and would later become an educator herself, as well as a guidance counselor and mentor. Of course, her most important job was that of “First Lady of College Football”, as wife of the legendary Coach Rob, the winningest coach in Division I college football history.
GSU’s current head football coach, Broderick Fobbs, knows the important role that the wife of a coach plays.
“For Coach Rob to be as successful, and me to be in this seat, I understand how important it is to have your better half next to you,” Fobbs said. “I could image what she has gone through, especially with me [having] done it for two years and what my wife is gone through for two years..”
The Robinsons met in elementary school and their love continued to blossom at McKinley High School in Baton Rouge. She attended Southern University from 1936-1938 and then Leland College, graduating with her sweetheart on May 15, 1941. The newlyweds moved to Grambling that year when a young, eager Eddie Robinson was offered the head football position by President R.W.E. Jones at then Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute, now known as Grambling State University. They would spend the next 56 years together in Grambling, having raised their two children, Lillian Rose and Eddie Jr. there.
The family tree was expanded with the lives of five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and one great-great-granddaughter.
Mrs. Robinson counted as extended family the scores of athletes whose lives they touched during their years at Grambling. Brian Lowe, a consultant and former sales executive with the Memphis Grizzlies, numbers among that extended family.
“Our hearts mourn over the loss of GSU’s First Lady,” said alumnus Lowe. “I am so blessed to have known the Robinson family all my life. Though Mrs. Robinson will be missed by many of us on earth, she is now welcomed by our God in heaven and united with the only man she loved through many years of marriage.”
GSU’s president echoed those sentiments.
“Although, she was 96 years old, the community is very saddened by her passing,” aid Dr. Larkin.. “However there’s a degrees of happiness she lived a full life. She’s leaving us here but going were Coach Rob is,” he said.
A grandson summed up her life.
“Doris Mott Robinson lived a wondered life, loving and touching the lives of everyone she encountered,” said Eddie G. Robinson III. “During her final days with us, those days afforded her a happy peaceful sleep that blossomed into a happy passing.”