Classmates say butcher was a cut above the rest

A good number of Steven James “Steve” Robinson’s customers at his old Country Butcher meat markets on Dollarway Road and Hazel Street in Pine Bluff probably never realized he was the proprietor, as he was a working owner who wore an apron, sometimes used a mop or broom and toiled alongside his employees.

“He was such an unassuming person,” Wanda Madera of White Hall said of Robinson, who died Tuesday at the age of 67. “People who didn’t know the situation and saw him at work probably thought he was just another worker, just like everyone else. He never acted like he was any bigger or better than anyone else. He was just himself and treated everyone the same.”

Madera, Barbara Wegner of White Hall and Robinson were members of the White Hall High School Class of 1964. They had served together on a 40th-class reunion committee and were slated to soon initiate planning for a 50-year gathering.

“Steve kept track of everything by writing it down on a yellow legal pad that he carried with him,” said Madera. “He could write down all the information we needed to put things together for a reunion — addresses of classmates, telephone numbers, dates and times and everything else.”

Madera managed a chuckle before adding, “If his wife (Brenda Crutchfield Robinson) doesn’t know where that legal pad is, it’s going to be tough getting the 50th reunion going.”

Wegner said Robinson wasn’t comfortable with newer technology and told others that the only “computer” he needed was his legal pad and a No. 2 pencil.

Wegner said said one of Robinson’s traits she most appreciated was his consistency.

“He was always bubbly, always friendly and super easy to talk with,” she said of her friend, who worked at Safeway for more than 20 years before establishing and operating his own stores. “It seemed like time never went by with Steve. I would go by his store on Dollarway and we would see one another and have a good visit. Months might go by before we saw each other again, but we would start talking once more and he had a way of picking up the conversation right where we had left it.”

Robinson had a gift for making others laugh, too. Wegner, who speaks rapidly, recalled that in a high school speech class they shared, Robinson once sketched a speeding ticket and gave it to her for “giving a 10-minute speech in only five minutes.”

Madera said Robinson wasn’t forceful but applied his sound business sense in helping to make the 2004 class reunion successful.

“He was never bossy or pushy, but he saw that things happened,” said Madera. “He never declared himself to be the leader, but it worked out that that’s the way we looked at him. He was the glue that held us together.”

A deacon at White Hall’s Centennial Fellowship Church, Robinson quietly supported numerous charitable efforts and also offered an understanding ear and comforting care to anyone in need of an ally, his friends said.

“He didn’t mind talking to anyone about church or God,” said Wegner. “That was such a big part of his life.”

Wegner said Robinson helped her when her husband, Robert Wegner, died four years ago.

“I know what Brenda is going through right now,” said Wegner. “I know how she’s feeling. I want to reach out to her.”

Madera figures that Robinson’s death won’t stop him from helping in reuniting his former schoolmates, either for the 1964 group’s or annual WHHS All-Class get-togethers.

“Steve and our other classmates who have gone on are reminding us that we should stay in closer contact now, that our numbers are shrinking,” Madera said. “Every one of us loved Steve, and he’s still doing what he liked to do — keeping us together. I’ll be surprised if there’s not quite a few of his classmates at his service.”

A memorial service for Robinson will be held at 2 p.m. Friday at Ralph Robinson and Son Funeral Directors.