Joan Robbins died May 5 at Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport after a short illness. She was a resident of New Suffolk since 1951 and of Peconic Landing since 2009.
Joan B. Robbins was born Sept. 18, 1926, and grew up in San Antonio, Texas. After graduation from the University of Chicago she headed to New York City and was employed in the international affairs department at Columbia University. It was a position, she always said, she could not have occupied at a more interesting time, the years immediately following World War II.
Joan met and married Newton A. “Newt” Robbins in Greenwich Village and moved to a house barge on the Hudson River, where he was a marina manager. It was tough honeymoon living, they said, but a time they would never forget. When the marina shut down to clear the way for an expansion of Palisades Amusement Park, Newt and Joan shopped far and wide for a fishing station for sale so they might remain near open salt water. They found their dream in New Suffolk on Peconic Bay, “Captain Jim’s,” an established fishing station that they purchased from the Pugsley family.
As there was no ready employment for a woman with a degree in foreign affairs on Eastern Long Island, Joan went back to school and earned her master’s degree in social work. She was employed by the social services department of Suffolk County and, over 30 years later, in 1986, retired as area supervisor.
She and Newt enjoyed a long and happy retirement until his death in 2007.
Joan became active in the New Suffolk Civic Association when the North Fork Shipyard closed and New Suffolk was besieged with a series of waterfront development proposals. With each new threat, she appointed waterfront committees to work with town government to question every proposal that would close off the waterfront. The last of these worked with the Peconic Land Trust to purchase the 2.5-acre property in the name of the newly formed 501(c)(3) New Suffolk Waterfront Fund. Following the 1993 fire that destroyed the post office building and general store, Joan worked relentlessly with the regional director of the U.S. Postal Service to assure that New Suffolk would retain its ZIP code and replace its important community meeting place.
Joan is survived by her nephews, Newton Robbins Ferris (Laura Crehan) of San Diego, and Glenn Jordan Robbins (Carolyn Abelli) of Candia, N.H.; her niece, Ann Ferris Roarke; and her children, Ian Roarke and Katherine Roarke Sjoboen.
Joan also leaves behind many, many friends and an eternally grateful New Suffolk community.
A memorial service will be held in New Suffolk this summer, date to be announced.
Memorial donations may be made in her name to the New Suffolk Waterfront Fund, P.O. Box 146, New Suffolk, NY 11956.
This is a paid notice.