Elder Thomas Robinson
By Cora Jackson-Fossett
Sentinel Religion Editor
Godly, creative and thoughtful are just some of the words describing Elder Thomas Robinson during his memorial on March 25 at Park Hills Community Church in Los Angeles. The Rev. Dr. Richard L. Horton officiated the service.
An active member of Park Hills, Robinson served in various areas of the church before his passing on March 21. His involvement included appointments as Clerk of the Consistory and on the Church Governing Board. Also, he was a member of the Men’s Fellowship and the Sanctuary Choir.
“As an ordained elder, Tommy was deeply committed to ministry both within and outside the church walls. He dedicated much of his life to serving God whether in the church, in his careers or his personal life. Tommy was always focused on making a positive difference in the world and tried to accomplish that through his encounters with others,” said his sister, Mary Alice Walton King.
A native of Wharton, Texas, Robinson was born on November 1, 1924. Following the death of his parents in 1933, he moved to Los Angeles to live with his brother and attended Lafayette Junior High School and Polytechnic High School. After graduating, Robinson worked at a local grocery store and learned to speak Japanese from the store’s owner before being drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943.
While in the military, Robinson served in Calcutta, India as a chief harbor checker and later in food preparation for the 540th Battalion. Attaining the level of Staff Sergeant, he was honorably discharged in 1946 and returned to Los Angeles where he became employed as a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service.
Robinson also enrolled in college and earned a B.A. in Education from California State University at Los Angeles as well as a Master of Science degree in education from the University of Southern California. Demonstrating a strong interest in speech, he minored in Latin Derivative Languages including Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian.
Also, while in college, Robinson pledged Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity and was initiated in 1948. He held many offices including president of the Alpha Delta undergraduate and Beta Psi Lambda graduate chapters. In addition, he was a life member of both the Beta Psi Lambda Chapter in Los Angeles and Eta Pi Lambda Chapter in Pasadena.
A new phase in Robinson’s life occurred in 1953 when he married the former Alyce Sheppard and began working for the Los Angeles Unified School District. During his 34-year career, he served in several assignments such as special education teacher, school psychologist and specialist in the Research and Evaluation Branch on Grand Avenue.
Traveling the world provided great enjoyment for Robinson and his wife, Alyce, as they visited Mexico, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Italy, France, England, Portugal, Spain and Algeria during their marriage. He also enjoyed touring China and cruising to Alaska, South America, Greece and Turkey after Alyce passed away.
His other interests were artistic in nature – drawings, paintings in watercolor and acrylic, and repose’ in copper. He especially enjoyed music and singing tenor in various choirs.
Robinson was preceded in death by his wife, Alyce; his parents, Payton and Connie Robinson; his brother, James (Margaret); and his brother-in-law, John Sheppard. Cherishing his memory are Mrs. King; his sister in-law, Olivia Sheppard; his godsons, Kevin Jones and Kenneth Williams; his nephews, Charles Sheppard and Kevin King; his grand nephews and nieces, and a host of fraternity brothers, friends and acquaintances.