March 9, 2005 Suzanne Robinson learned philanthropy from the best, she says: her mother, Helen Kelbert and Charlotte Paiewonsky. And on Wednesday she was honored for learning her lessons well.
Robinson, who has served on scores of boards, led dozens of civic charges and has been, according to award presenter Elliott McIver Davis, "a tremendous force for good," was presented with the Rotary Club of St. Thomas II Person of the Year Award.
As is almost always the case, Robinson had no idea she was there to receive the award. But unlike some of the others, Robinson didn't have to be tricked into attending the event.
After the ceremony she said she always comes to the annual Person of the Year luncheon, "just to hear Mac's speech."
Davis, who has been presenting the award for 14 years , is noted for his touching words and sterling delivery as he builds the suspense to the moment when he reveals the winner.
"I didn't have any idea until he mentioned the children," Robinson said. At that point it would have been fairly obvious when he said their names Amy and Scott.
Robinson is the co-owner, with her husband Terry, of the Draughting Shaft in Havensight Mall.
Robinson gives her husband and their store credit, too. "We don't have a lot of money," she said after the luncheon ceremony at Marriott Frenchman's Reef, "but Terry has never balked at giving of time and other things."
The Robinsons came to St. Thomas, fresh out of college and newly wed, in 1966, "for one year," Suzanne recalled. She went to work on Main Street managing A.H. Riise. It was there that Robinson said Paiewonsky began "grooming me for philanthropy. She showed me the way."
She added, "My parents were very philanthropic, too. My mother taught me to leave every day better than I found it."
Robinson currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Antilles School, where, Davis said, "She is one of only three people in the 55-year history of the school who have been asked to return to the board after having served the statutory maximum of nine years."
She has also served as president of Inner Wheel and recently served as chairwoman of the Committee that hosted the "wildly successful" Inner Wheel District U.S.A. 2004 National Conference in May of last year, Davis said.
Robinson has recently been installed as a director on the board of trustees of the Inner Wheel U.S.A. Foundation, where she currently serves as secretary.
She is also active in the foundation's Myoelectric Limb project that assists in providing myoelectric prostheses for children up to the age of eighteen.
Davis went on, "Our recipient is a Rose Council honoree and just a few weeks ago became a Paul Harris Fellow. She is also a member of the Board of the Community Foundation and sits on the Capital Fund Committee of the Virgin Islands Humane Society.
"I am exhausted just in the recitation," Davis said, adding he had served with Robinson "on a tiny percentage of the vast number of organizations with which she works and learned a great deal from her."
To Robinson, all of these accomplishments are just what she does, "one project at a time," she says, adding, "Isn't everyone always doing one project or another?"
This is the 25th year the award, which is commemorated with a Lladro statue of Don Quixote, has been given.
Prior recipients are:
– 2004 Rodney Miller
– 2003 LaVerne Ragster
– 2002 Elliot "Mac" Davis
– 2001 Shaun A. Pennington
– 2000 John P. deJongh Jr.
– 1999 Randy Knight
– 1998 Nick Pourzal
– 1997 Lorraine Berry
– 1996 Vinni Mohanani
– 1995 Juel T.R. Molloy
– 1994 Edward E. Thomas Sr.
– 1993 Leona Bryant
– 1992 Verne A. Hodge
– 1991 Athniel "Addie" Ottley
– 1990 Dilsa Capdeville
– 1989 Ron de Lugo
– 1988 Irvin "Brownie" Brown
– 1987 Alexander A. Farrelly
– 1986 Dr. Alfred O. Heath
– 1985 Calvin Wheatley
– 1984 Costas Coulianos
– 1983 Dr. Roy L. Schneider
– 1982 Albert A. Aubain
– 1981 Wilbur "Bill" Lamotta
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