On Wednesday April 29th the Lord called our beloved Shirley Mae Robinson Johnson – one of His most precious earthly Angels – out of this earth and into her heavenly home. Shirley, the firstborn child of Emanuel and Mae Robinson entered this life on March 2, 1936 and lived to become the Matriarch of our family. God gifted Shirley with the heart and wisdom of a mother early in her life and she proved to be a natural nurturer and teacher to her siblings as her parents entrusted her with their care whenever they were away from home. Her faith in God through her acceptance of salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ was the solid foundation on which she built her life.
Her unconditional love, patience, kindness, perseverance, discipline and accomplishments have been a foundation for those of us blessed to share our lives with her. Her wisdom transcended time and her relentless desire to ensure that her loved ones were totally invested in the pursuit of their God-given greatness and the betterment for humanity was often summed up with this quote that she so often shared: “Every generation has the responsibility to leave life better than they found it.”
Shirley lived this belief in every area of her life including her career that spanned more than 50 years as she worked in the areas of education with the Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project (STOP); civic organizing for racial equality and voting rights with Judge Joseph Jordan in Norfolk, and home ownership when she decided to transition to building her own business as a Real Estate Agent where she earned repeated recognition as a million dollar sales agent.
Shirley will be remembered as a loving daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt, cousin, friend and mentor. It was our privilege to sit in her presence or talk with her on the phone as she shared her life experience and used it to make us better. She will be remembered for the sincerity in her voice when she spoke of the enduring sister-friendship that she treasured with her dear friend, Mrs. Ruby Walden, and the joy that exuded from her heart to her face and voice when she married her beloved husband K.O. She will be remembered for being our most ardent cheerleader as she so lovingly celebrated each of our accomplishments in life. She will be remembered for her love that totally consumed us when we talked and gave us the strength to keep going no matter the obstacles we encountered because it was our responsibility in our time and moment.
Shirley was pre-deceased in this life by her parents, Emanuel and Mae Robinson; her beloved husband Kendrick O. Johnson; her son Stephen G. Wilkins; 3 sisters Edith R. Jones, Laverne R. Martin and infant Joann Neal-Robinson and one brother Alexander Riddick.
She leaves to cherish her memory from her first marriage two sons, Walter Wilkins, Jr. of Virginia Beach and Kevin Wilkins of Chesapeake and one daughter, Sharon Wilkins of Chesapeake. Her daughter in-law, Brenda Wilkins and two granddaughters, Shannon and Arianna Wilkins of Virginia Beach. Two sisters Sullivan Robinson of Washington, D.C. and Barbara Robinson of Chesapeake; one brother, Emanuel Robinson, Jr. (Delphine) of San Antonio, TX, a multitude of nieces and nephews, cousins and friends.
Shirley has been a living example of how to use unconditional love and great expectations to motivate and inspire her family, friends, acquaintances and strangers to want to put no limits on our dreams; excel in our achievements; love sincerely, and to pursue leaving this life better in everyday that God gives us. There are no words to express how much we will miss her, but she will forever live in our lives.