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First lady of football laid to rest

Pauline Lee was among the hundreds turning out to honor and wish Doris Robinson goodbye, and she brought a special gift.

Doris had given me a silver bracelet that belonged to her. I remember when we would talk she would say ‘We go way, way, way back.’ I would have to remind her, me being younger, it wasn’t as many ways,” said Robinson’s friend of 30 years.

Thursday (September 24) was a sad but pleasant day as funeral services for Doris Robinson were held in the T.H. Harris Auditorium on the campus of Grambling State University. Robinson passed away at 96 years old at Northern Louisiana Medical Center in Ruston on Sept. 16 after a brief illness. 

Doris Robinson was married to Eddie G. Robinson for decades. They moved from Baton Rouge to Grambling, where Coach Rob became known for building championship players  on championship teams.  His career football record of 408-165-15 which was one of the best among all major university coaches, and Doris Robinson was at his side as he coached, mentored and helped football players become young men.

A public viewing was held Wednesday (September 23) afternoon and early evening at Miller Funeral Home in Monroe and there was another viewing closer to Robinson’s  Grambling, Louisiana, home Thursday (September 24) morning and early afternoon at New Rocky Valley Baptist Church.

Former GSU baseball coach Wilbert Ellis, a longtime Robinson friend, said Robinson touched many lives and she always loved Coach Rob. “Just the other  day she closed her eyes and said, ‘I’m ready to go see Eddie’ – and she did,” recalled Ellis. He said he imagined that Eddie Robinson was getting excited, telling former Grambling State University presidents and legends “Baby is coming.”

Ellis said the Robinsons loved Grambling State long before others did and the love affair they shared with each other was shared with the institution they loved. He said Robinson would say, “’No matter what you do, how you do it, when you do it, do it decently and honorably….Whatever you do, tell them it’s about Grambling, it’s about Grambling, it’s about Grambling.’”

Honored in 2014 as a contributor to the Grambling Legends Hall of Fame, Robinson’s presence at GSU football events was anticipated upon by the Grambling family. 

Among those attending the first lady’s service was head football coach Broderick Fobbs the 2015 Grambling State University football team, each dressed in coat and tie. The senior G-Men served as pallbearers. Others attending included in Superbowl XXII MVP Doug Williams. Football players and others stood as Robinson family member after Robinson family member entered the auditorium and filled several front row seats at the feet of Mrs. Robinson. 

Former and current players expressed great respect for Robinson.

“She was a kind woman,” said James “Shack” Harris, former GSU football player and the first black player to start as an NFL quarterback when he started with the AFL’s Buffalo Bills.

“I remember her loyalty and her being so loving. When anyone would speak of her late husband, she would always blush. It was so touching to me. She’s truly going to be missed,” said former kicker and G-Man Addie Nobahar of Iran.

Before the service, interim athletic director Obadiah Simmons spoke about how much Robinson meant to GSU football and all GSU athletics.

“Mrs. Robinson was truly an iconic figure and fixture among those affiliated with GSU Athletics,” said Simmons. “In addition to attending all the G-Men’s football games, Mrs. Robinson’s presence at all athletic events involving GSU was anticipated, expected and counted on by the Grambling family. Mrs. Robinson had a certain aura about her that was accentuated by a very charming personality that she exhibited throughout her lifetime.

“Mrs. Robinson was a beloved figure within the Grambling State University Athletics Department. She was widely known for her attendance at GSU and will be fondly remembered as the “Matriarch of Grambling Athletics.”

GLENN LEWIS/The Yearbook Wilbert Ellis says final goodbyes to Doris Robinson during funeral services on Thursday, September 24 in the T.H. Harris Auditorium.

GLENN LEWIS/The Yearbook
Wilbert Ellis says final goodbyes to Doris Robinson during funeral services on Thursday, September 24 in the T.H. Harris Auditorium.