Inside the top drawer of Robert Robinson’s bureau in Cumberland Foreside, there was an old faded maroon velvet satchel filled with cards and scraps of paper containing handwritten love notes from his wife, Lucille.

Their love lasted more than 60 years, during which time they raised four children, had successful careers and endured personal tragedies. They walked hand in hand through it all – until the end.

On March 23, the Robinsons were placed under hospice care at Foreside Harbor in Falmouth.

Robert Robinson died peacefully early Wednesday at age 95. His wife was sleeping in a bed beside him. Just over six hours later, she died at age 93.

“We were amazed by the synchronicity of it,” said Michael Robinson of his parents’ passing. “We knew they were close to the end, but no one thought they would pass within hours of each other. As difficult as it is, it’s exactly what they would have wanted. As hard as it is to lose both of your parents within hours, it’s the perfect ending to their lives.”

Robert and Lucille Robinson met at a party at Boston College in 1951. Lucille was impressed when Robert, a law student, rattled off times for Mass services.

Robert and Lucille Robinson met at a party at Boston College in 1951. Lucille was impressed when Robert, a law student, rattled off times for Mass services.

Their love story began at a party at Boston College during Lent in 1951. Robert Robinson was studying law at Boston College. Lucille A. Frenza, a 1950 graduate of Boston College, was on the nursing faculty and pursuing her master’s degree in nursing. At the party, she asked where Mass was being held and Robinson promptly recited the schedule.


“It made her head turn,” recalled their daughter, Maryann Robinson of Marblehead, Massachusetts. “She was very impressed by that. He noticed her. She was beautiful.”

It wasn’t long before they had their first date at a restaurant at the Lenox Hotel in downtown Boston.

“They completely hit it off,” their daughter said.

They got to know each other on that date – and learned that they came from very different backgrounds.

Lucille was a second-generation Italian who grew up in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York, during the Great Depression. She attended Long Island College Hospital School of Nursing, then joined the Navy during World War II and treated wounded soldiers at Camp Lejuene in North Carolina.

Robert grew up in Portland, the second of five children. He had strong Irish Catholic roots. He graduated from Portland High School in the late 1930s. In his early years, he worked at a bowling alley on Peaks Island and at George C. Shaw’s grocery store. He later joined the Army and served with the 188th Engineering Battalion during World War II.


After the war, he studied economics at Boston College. He remained in 850145_couple3.jpgBoston and earned his law degree from BC in 1952.

That same year, the couple got married and moved to Portland. He founded a law firm with his brother on Exchange Street. She became director of clinical instruction at the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing. In 1956, she gave up her nursing career to stay home and raise their children. When her children were grown, she resumed her nursing career part time.

On Friday, the couple’s children laughed and cried as they shared stories about their early years – and how they could never get anything past their parents.

“They were like the Iron Curtain,” Michael Robinson said, chuckling. “They were always able to speak with one voice to us. They were rock solid, presenting a united front.”

Robert Robinson had a successful 50-year career as a lawyer. In the mid-1960s, he co-founded the law firm Robinson, Kriger & McCallum in Portland. He retired in 2002 at age 81.

In addition to Maine courts, Robinson argued cases before the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court, according to his obituary.


Robinson served as campaign manager for former Maine Gov. John H. Reed and also as general counsel for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. He also was the state advocate for the Knights of Columbus and general counsel for the Catholic Charities of Maine.

In his later years, Robinson taught at the University of Maine School of Law.

“He had his hands in everything – in the town, the state and with the church,” his son said. “He was a hugely civic-minded person, but home was super important to him.”

Family and faith were the cornerstones of the Robinsons’ lives. The couple built a home in Cumberland Foreside in 1968. It became a place where family and friends gathered over the years to celebrate holidays, birthdays and other special occasions. Some of the Robinsons’ fondest memories were of lobster bakes at the reserve at Wildwood Park, their children said.

Robert Robinson had a lifelong passion for the ocean. He fished 35 lobster traps, and now his son Mark carries on the tradition.

“He loved teaching his family the value of the sea,” his daughter said.


In 2014, the Robinsons moved to Foreside Harbor, an assisted living community in Falmouth. They were often seen holding hands, smiling and laughing.

Maryann Robinson recalled the day she went to their Cumberland home to get her father more bow ties and cuff links. She stumbled upon the velvet satchel in his drawer. She opened it, and sat on a chair by the window and read the love notes her mother had written to him.850145_couple5.jpg

“They were beautiful. I cried,” she said.

Two nights before her parents died, she found another note. The paper was faded and worn, meaning her father had read through it many times during his life. She shared the note with her brothers.

Michael Robinson said it was a testament to the love his parents shared.

“We receive these messages about love when we go to (romantic comedies) and oftentimes they’re about the early stages of love and people falling in love,” he said. “The reality is that love is hard. It’s tough work. The thing that amazes me is that they figured out a way to make it work.”

When asked what the secret was to their lasting marriage, he replied: “They actually listened to each other. They did it so well.”

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