Remembering Janet Robinson: Woman of service now at rest

Janet Ann Robinson: Dec. 2, 1937 – April 19, 2019

Our mother has at long last completed her earthly service. Janet Robinson died at home in the presence of family, as she desired. She was 81.

Janet was born in New Orleans, Louisiana to Louise and Bartholomew Downs and grew up with siblings Mary, Gail and Wendell. She imported her home’s traditional hospitality and unique culture to California where she raised her family, continued her education and made her life.

Janet was an early childhood teacher and program administrator. She spent her career at UC Berkeley in service to families and their growing infants and toddlers. She was called “the baby whisperer” for her intuitive abilities with children. She was also a dedicated steward in the many church and school communities her children attended in and around Berkeley, where they grew up.  

Janet’s big dreams were to be a dancer and to see more of the world. And she honored both by celebrating every opportunity to dance, and through her travels with her committed life partner, Thomas Dixon.

Janet valued friendship and kept close relationships, spanning 50-plus years. She used the food and hospitality of her beloved New Orleans, her humor and her partying spirit as her ways to show love. Her two “sisters,” Jeannie and Quita, were at her side in her final days.

Janet’s husband, Wilbur preceded her in death in 2000. She leaves her last surviving sibling, her sister Mary Downs; seven children: Peggy, Stacy, Glen, Kelly, Adrinne, Paul and Peter; 17 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren. She also leaves Thomas, with whom she found love and peace in her later years. Her extended family, of her “babies,” relatives and friends is wide and deep. Her death leaves a space in our lives that only her enduring spirit will fill.

The New Orleans tradition of the Jazz Funeral affirms the idea of celebrating after death in order to please the spirits who protect the dead and to celebrate the life of the deceased. It was our mother’s wish that we would bring festivity to her memorial by doing what she loved – having a good time. Please honor our family with your presence for music, laughter and dancing later in the program.

She would be honored if you would donate in her name to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

Thank you.

Janet Robinson’s Memorial will be held on Saturday, June 15 at 5 p.m. at Saint Columba Church Parish Hall,  6401 San Pablo Ave., Oakland, 94608.