Robin was born in Pampa, TX, and his parents divorced when he was five years old. Shortly afterward, he moved to Oklahoma with his mom and older brother. His mom later remarried, and both his mom and stepfather struggled with alcoholism. His stepfather worked for the pipeline, and they moved frequently – by the time Robin was 13, he had moved 26 times. He never started and finished a grade in the same school until he reached high school.
On Valentine’s Day in 1974, 12-year-old Robin woke up to find his mother laying down beside him and didn’t hear her breathing. Fearing the worst, he immediately dialed 911. As he waited for the police, Robin reflected upon his own path, as he had already developed the initial stages of regular drinking, smoking and fighting.
He knew he had two choices – he could end up just like his mother, who died from alcohol poisoning at age 36, or choose a different path. He chose the latter, and ever since then, his life has become an example of what it means to fight back against some of life’s toughest obstacles yet somehow finding a way to remain resilient and optimistic about what lies ahead.
Robin currently serves as the Human Resources (HR) Manager at Shell’s Puget Sound Refinery (PSR) in Anacortes, WA and has worked for Shell for 25 years.
Mom’s death marks turning point
“It [mom’s death] was definitely a turning point for me,” he said. “That moment changed the course of my life forever.”
Following the death of his mom and knowing that he needed to remove himself from the unhealthy environment, Robin moved to Nebraska to live with his grandmother. He later moved in with his father, but that didn’t last long before he moved back in with his grandmother. He had an aunt who lived in Bellingham, WA, and he and his grandmother relocated to the area when Robin was 13 to be near her. They were extremely impoverished, and his grandmother died about a year later from heart attack – leaving Robin without a stable home.
His neighbors (a young couple in their early 20’s) later took him in, and the man of the house introduced Robin to the world of classic cars. That sparked an interest in what now represents Robin’s biggest passion.
After a few months of living with his neighbors, he moved in with his older brother for a brief period before finally choosing to put himself in the foster care system at age 16.