Barbara Pilley Robinson, 95, formerly of Manhattan, died on May 27th, 2019 at River Glen Health Care Center in Southbury, Connecticut, where she had lived since 2013. Barbara Esme Pilley was born in Coventry, England, on September 18th, 1923, the sixth of seven children of Edward Bernard and Winifred Ann Smallwood Pilley. She, as all six of the “Pilley girls,” attended Oulton Abbey, a girls’ boarding school operated by an order of Benedictine nuns. Upon graduation, she attended a certification program and became a nursery nurse. During the War, she worked in a day nursery, caring for children of women working in Coventry’s factories. Post-war, she worked as a nanny to the family of the headmaster of a boys’ boarding school. In 1956, she set sail to visit her younger sister Monica Palmer and her burgeoning family, then in Far Rockaway, New York. The plan was later to continue across the U.S. and then to sail to New Zealand, where two other sisters had remained after the War. Her plans changed when she met her husband, James Russell Robinson, whom she married February 5, 1960 in Manhattan. They lived in Manhattan for the next half-century, raising two children. Barbara worked at the New York Chapter of the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation, and then at The Social Register. She ultimately became a dual national of the U.S. and the U.K. Having contracted polio at 13 but fortunate to have received excellent medical care and to recover after prolonged illness, and having in her nursing role seen children suffer from then-unpreventable childhood diseases, Barbara was zealous in ensuring her children received every vaccine as soon as it was available. The recent, needless outbreaks of conquerable childhood diseases would be very distressing to her. In addition to her late husband, her children, grandchildren, and family “back home” in England, she loved martinis, the New York Yankees, pottery lessons, volunteering at the parish breadline, New York Times crossword puzzles, and travel, particularly cruises.
She is survived by her son, James Edward Robinson, his wife Karen and their children, Richard James ("R.J.") and Isabel Marie, all of Southington, CT, and by her daughter Harriet Robinson Gowanlock and her husband William Bryant Gowanlock of Madison, CT, and their daughters, Sarah Winifred Gowanlock of Edinburgh, Scotland, and Grace Genevieve Gowanlock, a student at The George Washington University in the District of Columbia.
Calling hours will be Friday, July 5th from 4:30 to 7:00 PM at Munson-Lovetere Funeral Home, 2 School Street, Woodbury, CT. The funeral mass will take place on Saturday, July 6th at 11:00 AM at St. Teresa of Avila Church, 146 Main Street South, Woodbury, CT.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be sent to one of the following:
End Polio Now https://www.endpolio.org/donate
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