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R.D. Robinson 1938 – 2021

R.D. Robinson

Mr. Robert Dean “R.D.” Robinson, 82, of Sharon died Tuesday, April 27, 2021, at West Tennessee Healthcare Volunteer Hospital in Martin.

Funeral services were Saturday, May 1, 2021, 2 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Sharon with Rev. Randy Cooper and Rev. Michael Norton officiating. Burial followed in Woodlawn Cemetery in Sharon. Visitation was Saturday at the church, beginning at 10 a.m. until service time at 2 p.m.

Pallbearers were Billy Allen, Brandon Eddings, Chris Fowler, Billy Rachels, Dustin Pinkston and Richard Trevathan.  Honorary Pallbearers were Joel Douglas, Joe Porter, Tommy Bullington, Johnny Oliver, Don Gordon, John Clark, Brad Biggs, David Connell, Billy Smith, Tim Smith, Ricky Green, Alvin Webster, Brad Robinson, Robert Conley, Hoyt Green, David Murphy, Ray Wilson, George Mesimer, Phillip Wallace, Steve Sutberry, LC Plunk, Jackie Turner and Joe Brasher.

Mr. Robinson is survived by his wife, Dianne Palmer Robinson of Sharon; his daughter, Linda (Keith) Fowler of Martin; his son, Robert Dean Robinson, Jr. of Birmingham, AL; sister, Betty (Gary) Eddings of Sharon; three grandchildren, Chris (Carly) Fowler, Rachel Fowler and Emily Fowler.

Mr. Robinson owned and operated Robinson & Belew Grain, Robinson & Belew Feed Mill and was in partnership with Robinson Farms. He was a graduate of Sharon High School and The University of Tennessee at Martin. He was a member of First United Methodist Church in Sharon and was a veteran of the U.S. Army. He was a founding member of the Phi Sig fraternity at UT Martin.  R.D. also served as a Bank Director for the Bank of Sharon and First State Bank. He was chosen as the Mid-South Fair Farmer of the Year in 1993.

R.D. Robinson was a man who loved life and loved people. If you knew him, you know how much he enjoyed talking to people. He never met a stranger and always wanted to know your name, where you were from and who you were related to. He was usually able to make a connection with everyone he met. R.D. had many friends of all ages through the years. He treasured his friendships with his buddies from Sharon, college friends, fishing buddies, area farmers and numerous friends in the feed and grain industry. Through the years he served as a mentor to many young men in the Sharon community. He enjoyed working with his father and other family members at Robinson and Belew Feed Mill and Robinson and Belew Grain. He was married to the love of his life, Dianne, for 59 years. Being a father and grandfather brought such joy to him. Later in life, R.D. loved to be on the lake fishing with his buddies, traveling with friends, driving the back roads looking at farmland, spending time with his daughter and grandchildren and visiting his son in Birmingham. He enjoyed cooking and always said he thought he would have been a great chef. R.D. loved being a bank director for the Bank of Sharon and enjoyed seeing the growth as the bank became First State Bank with locations across the state of Tennessee.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Robert Rulen Robinson and Mary Lucile Taylor Robinson; two sisters, Bobbie Jean and Mary Jane.

Memorials may be sent to the Alzheimer’s Association, the R.D. and Dianne Robinson Agriculture Scholarship Endowment at UT Martin, 554 University Street, Martin, TN  38238, or the Weakley County Backpack Program, P.O. Box 169, Dresden, TN  38225.

A Tribute to Our Daddy: R.D. was the son of Bob and Lucile Robinson. He grew up on a Strawberry and Sweet Potato farm on Hudson Springs Road east of Sharon, Tennessee, in a large extended family that included his sister, Betty, his grandmother, Maggie, and two young Aunts, Rosie and Elsie.

During his youth, his father transitioned from farmer to businessman. He found his love of business and learned the value of hard work accompanying his father each Saturday to their feed mill in town. At the end of the day, he was rewarded with a nickel to finance his Saturday night movie and popcorn. He played football at Sharon High School, but his love was basketball and he remained a lifelong fan. He was known by his fellow students for his crisply-pressed khakis and his 1956 Chevy that he proudly purchased with the money he had earned as a youth.

The Summer of 1957 was memorable for the Robinsons. They moved to town and R.D. graduated from Sharon High School. He informed his father of his reluctance to attend college and was promptly handed a shovel. At the end of a summer of digging footings for the expansion of their feed mill in the heat of a Tennessee summer, he enrolled at the University of Tennessee at Martin. At college he was one of the founding members of Phi Sig where he gained many lifetime friendships. His senior year he met the love of his life, Dianne Palmer, who continued to entertain his affections even after showing up late one night on her parent’s doorsteps after his fraternity brothers pranked him by leaving him to find his way home on foot in the dark countryside.

R.D. and Dianne married in 1961 and he was called to serve his country in the U.S. Army. As a graduate of UTM with a degree in Agriculture he chose to serve his enlistment at an Army research farm. The Army felt that his talents were best suited for the infantry. He spent his Army days as an infantry man in Killeen, Texas.

R.D. and Dianne returned to Sharon with their daughter, Linda, in 1963. He joined his father in business and the birth of his son, Dean, followed soon afterwards.

R.D. became a partner in Robinson and Belew with his father and uncle, Sleepy Belew. As the younger of the three he led the company’s expansion into pork production and grain storage. In 1978, sensing the changes in the local farming economy from dairy and livestock farming to grain production, he expanded by constructing a grain storage facility on the Illinois Central Railroad line north of downtown Sharon. Robinson and Belew continues to serve the farmers of Weakley County at this location.

R.D. returned to his roots on Hudson Springs Road expanding his family farm and acquiring more across Weakley and Gibson counties. Just as he had seen the opportunities in the farming economy, he joined with a group of local businessmen as a board member of the Bank of Sharon that oversaw its growth across the state as First State Bank. It is now one of the core components of Simmons Bank, one of the Southeast’s largest banking institutions.

R.D. was a businessman, but he was also a family man, and friend to many. His business life was always a family affair including uncles, aunts, cousins, and father as partners. His friends included many, from his youth on Hudson Springs, his college and fraternity days, and the associates across the southeast in the feed and grain business. He was often a mentor to many young men of Sharon.

His long-term dream of building his business as a legacy for the future was realized when Linda’s husband, Keith Fowler, became the leader of Robinson and Belew and he had his eye on his grandson Christopher to continue even further into the future.

As R.D. found success, he was finally able to relax. He found joy in traveling with his wife and friends, visiting his son in Birmingham, teaching his granddaughter, Rachel, to drive him around his farms at the age of eleven, and always looked forward to his weekly ice cream trips with his granddaughter, Emily.

R.D. will be remembered for much, but his family will always remember the twinkle in his eye when family and friends came to visit during the days he spent the last few years at home with his wife Dianne.

Paid Obituary: Murphy Funeral Home

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