Barbara Robbins

May 11, 1932 – November 27, 2023

The evening of Monday, November 27th, our mother, Barbara Helen Robbins, died gently in her final home overlooking Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island, Washington. She was ninety-one. Most of her six children were with her as the full moon shone in from over the Sound and all the boats, otters and herons she so loved to watch.

Born in Chicago on May 11, 1932, Barbara, with her mother and younger siblings, followed her mining-engineer father to outposts all over the northwest wilderness, landing – at the outset of World War II – in the tiny town of Candle, Alaska, where he had a gold dredging operation. She made lifelong friends with the Eskimo children there and reveled in their wild seesaw and blanket-toss games. As part of the war effort in those years, her father sometimes flew with her up into the mountains to find quartz crystals for use in military radios. They had engine trouble on one of those trips, so had to land the plane on a sand bank and then hike three days to a logging camp as search parties scoured the region for them. What our mother remembered most fondly about the adventure was being allowed to eat all the sugar cubes she wanted from the emergency rations.

Barbara studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, and at Stanford University, where she met and married Jon Lindbergh, son of the famed aviators. His service in the Navy took them to southern California where he began a career as a deep-sea diver and occasional extra on the television series Sea Hunt, and the first of their children were born.

An exuberant playmate of the neighborhood kids in those days, Mother lead chains of us on thrilling (terrifying) bike rides through Pt. Loma neighborhoods, taught us how to dive under waves at Ocean Beach, and hosted everyone at the swimming pool our father had built in that tiny backyard.

In 1965 we relocated to Bainbridge Island and filled up the rambling house built originally for the Westinghouse family on Manzanita Bay. Life was full then, with new babies and adolescents, clamming, mushrooming, skiing, canning, ferrying us to ballet, gymnastics, piano, guitar, little league, soccer…and treating countless skinned knees, bruised egos and flat bike tires. Our mother took care of everything.

She had a pretty alto voice and could put on a fine harmony. And every now and then she’d pick out a Beatles song or La Borrachita on her little Spanish guitar to impress or embarrass us – or both. She loved Opera and whaling chanties, and brought Odetta and Harry Belafonte into our lives early enough to make their songs muscle memory.

When her marriage dissolved in the early 1980s, and as we children began to disperse, Barbara moved to a small house with an enormous view on the Sand Spit. There she finally had time to develop deep friendships with other islanders, and even go back to school to earn a master’s degree in social work. After qualifying as a psychotherapist, she opened an office in Winslow where, in addition to counseling individuals, she guided group dream-analysis.

Trips to the U.K. and China – including a women’s bike trip through Mongolia – and to visit her widely scattered family were many, before a series of pernicious falls began to take their toll. Pain, debilitation, or confusion notwithstanding, our mother’s adoration of her family and friends, her feisty wit, and her compulsion to tidy up never flagged, even through her very last days.

Survived by her sister, Wendy Robbins, her six children, Kristina, Wendy, Lars, Leif, Erik and Morgan, eight grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren, our mother leaves a great hollow place in our lives. But she’ll go on in our hearts as a bottomless source of wisdom, comfort, ridiculous puns, and those harrowing, soul-stirring tales from her youth.

A memorial is planned for a date to be announced.