Chesterton Tribune

Grace Emily Gardner Robertson dies at 88

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Grace Emily Gardner Robertson, age 88, of Chesterton, died Tuesday, March 20, 2007 in Brownsville, Oregon, where she was visiting her son.

Emily was born Sept. 26, 1918, during the height of the flu epidemic, in San Antonio, Texas, the daughter of Dorthea Katharine Haberstroh Gardner and Captain Glenn Pierce Gardner.

On April 26, 1941 in Fort Wayne, she married William C. Robertson. William died last April at the age of 87.

She is survived by three children, Dr. William Carl Robertson, Jr. (Jana) of Brownsville, Ore., James Gardner Robertson (Charlotte) of Chesterton, and Elizabeth Lee Robertson (Kristina Colton) of Haverhill, Mass. 

She is also survived by grandchildren, Alexander Z. Robertson, (Karen) of Indianapolis; Anna Robertson Richards (Doug) of Veneta, Ore.; Darby Robertson Stark (Nils) of Eugene, Ore.; Emily Jane Robertson, and Kevin James Robertson of Junction City, Ore.; Timothy Levi Robertson (Jyothi) of Belmont, Calif.; Desiree Ruth Robertson-Thompson (Alexander) of St. Paul, Minn.; Jenna Berman Robertson (Mitchell Akiyama) of Montreal, Quebec; and James Anthony Gardner Colton of Haverhill, Mass.

Also surviving are great-grandchildren, Aaron and Benjamin Richards of Veneta, Ore.; Joel Frederick Robertson of Indianapolis; Mimi Ping Yan and Quinn William Stark of Eugene, Ore.; and Heidi Sharada Karishma Robertson of Belmont, Calif. 

Her daughter Dorothy Marie Robertson preceded her in death. She was also preceded in death by a brother, Austin Leonard Gardner, and a sister, Dorothea Gardner Tieman.

Emily loved poetry, and just last month recited Keats’ “Ode to A Nightingale” at a family dinner. She also played the piano, leading the family in Christmas carols and spirituals. A gifted photographer, she developed her own pictures, which were exhibited at the Chesterton Art Center. Emily was an active woman, swimming, sailing, canoeing, and kayaking. She also golfed, and enjoyed hiking and gardening. She spent many hours saving native Indiana wildflowers from bulldozers as development covered the countryside.  An accomplished horsewoman, Emily rode regularly well into her 80s.  She owned several horses, but had a special fondness for Saddler.

With her husband William, she traveled the world, visiting Europe, Russia, Tibet, China, South America, and Antarctica.

A lifelong seeker of spiritual knowledge, she was a member of the Chesterton Methodist Church, the Jekyll Island Presbyterian Community Church, and attended the St. Patrick Catholic Church in her later years. She also studied Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoga, Native American religion and Chinese philosophy.

She grew up in Fort Wayne, Ind., losing her father at age 16, and helped her mother with caring for younger siblings and many cousins.  During her teenage years, she volunteered as a teacher with the Sir Wilfred Grenfell Mission in Labrador, Canada, traveling by fishing boat through iceberg filled waters.

Graduating from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, she was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority. At the University bookstore, during her senior year, Emily met and fell in love with her husband,  William C. Robertson. 

As her husband established his medical career, Emily helped in his office, moving from Fort Wayne to Huntington W. Va., Litchfield. Ky., Shipshewana, Ind., and finally Chesterton in 1952.  

Active in town activities and programs, Emily served on the Park Board, as President of the PTA, with the Association of Artists and Craftsmen of Porter County, and on the Boards of the Richardson Wildlife Preserve in Dune Acres, and the Westchester Public Library.  She tutored children in the Neighborhood After School program in Michigan City.  

Retiring with her husband in 1980, she spent the winters on Jekyll Island, Georgia. There she volunteered with the Seaman’s Association and tutored in local schools. Most recently, she volunteered at the Duneland Resale Shop.

The family will have a memorial service for Emily and William April 21, at the Chesterton Cemetery and request remembrances be directed to the Westchester Public Library.


Posted 3/26/2007