Hello Shipmates, 
we have some very tragic news:

robinson.jpg (35857 bytes)

Photo from 2002 San Diego Reunion 
Click on photo to enlarge

(11/25/02)  Joe and Jerilyn Robinson passed away last Friday - they died in their home from CO affixation. 

Apparently, they did not turn off the engine of the car when they returned home, and CO permeated the house. Friends with whom Joe was to go golfing the following morning were concerned when he did not show up and did not call to say that he could not make the tee time, that was so unlike him. 

They checked the house later in the day and saw that mail and papers were not picked up. After calling many times and no response, they notified the police and finally the police broke into the house Friday night and found them on the floor, in their night clothes. 

We learned this Saturday night and have been working to help organize and schedule air transportation to get Jerilyn's family (2 sisters & nephews) down to Florida to take care of arrangements as the police would not let anyone have access to the premises except the next of kin due to the circumstances surrounding the deaths. Joe has two brothers and two sisters, one of the brothers is planning to go to Florida in the next day or two. We will be going down this Friday. Will let you know if there is further news. Right now no one knows what their final wishes are and the family members will be searching for their wills/trusts. Wherever the final services will be held, we plan to be there, and Joe will represent the Stoddard Alumni as chaplain and offer an eulogy and prayer from the group. Please take care. Say a prayer for them, and their families. 

Joe and Marilyn Harpster

(12/20/02)  We made it to Punta Gorda just at the end of the memorial service (9 to 11; we got there at 11:05!) Tried to take some photos - it was closed caskets. We ordered a red-white-blue spray for Joe's casket from the Stoddard, and we did the matching one for Jerilyn. The only photo we were able to get was from the funeral home's Polaroid camera.  They flew the bodies to NY for services there, as they had lots of relatives and family friends up north. Burial services was at the national cemetery there. Lynne said that the Knights of Columbus provided color guard and the service was solemn and beautiful.

Joe Harpster robinson3.jpg (23813 bytes) robinson2.jpg (31820 bytes) robinson4.jpg (29760 bytes)

This copy purchased from the HeraldTribune Archive Website:


Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)

Punta Gorda couple found dead in home

November 26, 2002
Section: A SECTION
Page: A1

 MICHAEL A. SCARCELLA michael.scarcella@heraldtribune.com

Every morning, Joe and Jerilyn Robinson arrived at Mass at the Sacred Heart Church here, always a minute or two late, but never more.

As soon as Mass started, not a minute would go by and they'd come in," Ron Duquette, the church's youth minister said Monday. With his eyes he showed how the couple would peer around the room looking for their spot. "They always seemed surprised -- Mass had already started." Middle section, right side. That was the Robinsons' spot.

Joe intended to skip Friday's Mass and go to a local golf course with friends. They arrived shortly after sunrise to pick him up, but nobody answered the door, and telephone calls to the house later that afternoon were not returned.

That night, as friends returned to the couple's home, growing ever more certain that something wasn't right, a dim light shone through the bedroom window.

Police were called, and they entered the house about 9 p.m.

They found Joseph J. Robinson, 72, and his wife, Jerilyn M., 61, New York City natives married 36 years, dead on their bedroom floor.

They had died there sometime Thursday night or early Friday morning, apparently from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Both were wearing night clothes, and lay near each other.

Investigators say the Robinsons' minivan, which was parked in the garage, had been running since the couple returned home from Thursday night socializing -- riding the ferris wheel at the church's weekend carnival, a round or two of cards at a friend's house. They came home about 11 p.m. and never turned the car off.

The heat was so intense in the attached double-car garage, which was connected to the house through a door and an air-conditioning unit, that wood panels had buckled.

Based on preliminary investigation, city police were treating the deaths as accidental. They were investigating whether a carbon monoxide detector in the house failed to activate.

City police Cmdr. Jason P. Ciaschini said the death investigation remains open, but initial observations show no suggestion of foul play.

"The only solace in this whole thing is that they went together," Duquette said.

A strand of white Rosary beads dangled from the van's rearview mirror Monday. The garage was still warm as friends and family grappled with the loss of a couple who brought excitement into the lives of many here.

"She was almost like a daughter to us," said close friend Mary Ellen Tilka, 83. She and her husband, Michael, met the couple through church. The Robinsons, devout Catholics, rarely missed church.

They often dined with friends, shopped and played cards. The couple met over a series of Friday night card games at her father's house in Long Beach, N.Y.

"They're playing cards every Friday night and the next thing you know they were getting married," recalled Lynne Flood, Jerilyn's sister, who lives in New York.

"They hit it off instantly over the dining room table. It was a very quick romance," Flood, 56, said.

Jerilyn and Joe grew up in Manhattan, in the Yorkville neighborhood on the Upper East Side, but never crossed paths there.

With five months of high school left, Joe dropped out and joined the Navy, where he served on the USS Stoddard, a destroyer, during the Korean War.

"He said, 'The war's here. I gotta go,'" said John Robinson, 61, the youngest of four Robinson brothers.

Joe Robinson remained in touch with his fellow Stoddard crewmen.

Jerilyn Robinson, who shared her computer skills with countless people here, was a retired AT&T supervisor who worked in New York City. Her husband was an expert mechanic who worked on elevators in a city full of skyscrapers.

The couple had their house built in the 200 block of Garvin Street in 1985. They lived here year-round for about the last 10 years, developing a lifestyle that included dining out often and being involved with the church.

Funeral arrangements will be made after the medical examiner has finished with his report, family members said.

The couple had no children. Jerilyn Robinson is survived by two sisters; Joseph Robinson leaves two brothers and two sisters.


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