Celebration of Life Sept. 27 for Judge ‘Robbie’ Robison
District Judge Norman “Robbie” Robison did more than advocate for China Spring Youth Camp. He built the main road and cleared the land for the camp south of Gardnerville.
“The one story about Robbie was that he had that big old bulldozer, and plowed that road in and got that camp going,” former Director Steve Thaler said Wednesday. “He was instrumental in getting that place going and keeping it going. Without (he and Judge Dave Gamble) I’m not sure the camp would be what it is now.”
A celebration of his life is 2-6 p.m. Sept. 27 at the Carson Valley Country Club in Gardnerville. Robison died Aug. 9 at age 78.
Retired District Judge Dave Gamble said the only industrial injury at China Spring he remembers was when Robison jumped from the cab of a bulldozer while trying to cut a line to protect the camp in a wildfire.
“China Spring was his pride and joy,” Gamble said.
Gamble and Robison were both outdoorsmen.
“We decided at the beginning that we should meet on a regular basis,” Gamble said. “We would have the 6,000-foot meeting fishing at Tahoe. When we had our low meetings, we would go to Topaz and fish. We also did some hunting together.”
Gamble said that when he was elected to the bench in 1986, Robison mentored him.
“He trained me in being a caring and considerate judge,” Gamble said. “He had a gruff exterior, but he was really everybody’s grandpa. In the courtroom he was always appropriately strict, but he also really cared about the people in front of him. He was much more than a judge. He was the salt of the Earth. He was a gentleman, dignified, but still a real Nevada guy.”
Robison was the first judge appointed to Douglas County District Court Department II in February 1982 by Gov. Robert List. He retired from the bench in 1994 and then became a traveling senior court judge until his retirement in January 2015.
Thaler served as Robison’s bailiff when he was with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.
“What a neat guy he was,” Thaler said. “There’s a guy who rose up through the ranks, goes to law school and starts making his mark on Douglas County.”
Thaler, now a Douglas County commissioner, said he and George Wennhold were lucky to bailiff for Robison.
“We watched him handle some pretty serious trials,” Thaler said.
Born May 4, 1937, he grew up in Elsinore, Calif., and served in the U.S. Navy in 1954. He met his wife at a dance, and they married June 28, 1958.
The couple arrived in Carson Valley in 1961, where he worked as a Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy. He worked as a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper before attending the McGeorge School of Law.
The family purchased the Robison Ranch in the Pine Nuts in 1971, ranching there for nearly a quarter of a century.
Robison’s daughter, Rhonda Kudrna said she learned to work a bulldozer on the Robison Ranch in East Valley.
“(We) raised everything from alfalfa to pigs, horses, sheep, cows and a variety of birds,” she said. “He had a passion for fishing and had several trout ponds on their property.”
Starting in 1974, the family would host a spaghetti feed, where Robison would teach children to fish in the trout ponds on the property.
Kudrna said her father held the first fishing derbies at what is now Lampe Park.
“He had a truck with a tank on it in order to transport the fish and it was fondly called ‘The Fish Bunny,’” she said. “His reason for beginning this event was to ‘get kids hooked on fishing, not on drugs.’ The Fishing Derby is a huge event still for kids of all ages every spring.”
Robison is survived by his wife of 57 years, Jeanette, daughter Rhonda Kudrna (Richard, Jr.), son Craig Robison (Debra) and four grandchildren, Danielle and Kendra Blum and Annelise and Ethan Robison.
Donations may be made in his name to the Disabled Veterans (dav.org), or the Wounded Warriors Project (woundedwarriorproject.org).