Hooksett loses long-time town matriarch Dorothy Robie
HOOKSETT — She cooked for Rosalynn Carter, chatted with Nancy Reagan and helped run one of the region’s most historic country stores.
A lifelong Hooksett resident, Dorothy Robie passed away Saturday at 96.
“She was probably the most gracious, loving and giving person I have every known,” said her daughter, Janyce Demers. “She saw only the good in everyone. She knew everyone has faults, of course, and she was no saint, but she really did go out of her way to find the good in everyone.”
Robie, who was born April 22, 1918, grew up on a Hooksett farm and married Lloyd Robie in the early 1940s. The couple ran the family business, Robie’s Country Store, until 1997, when they retired and sold the property, which is listed on both the United States National Register of Historic Places and the New Hampshire State Register of Historic Places.
“She was there quite a bit, usually baking and cooking,” said her son, Wayne Robie. “She also cooked for the lunch program in Hooksett, and would make lunch for the election workers. She loved baking and cooking for others.”
“ And her famous baked beans,” added Demers. “That was a secret recipe.”
One of the shining moment’s of Robie’s time there came when Jimmy Carter was on the campaign trail and she was able to prepare a meal for Rosalynn Carter. The Robies, with their store located right next to the train tracks, welcomed dozens of presidential candidates, big-name politicians and other famous characters throughout the years.
“She was always helping other people, and was involved in a lot of Hooksett organizations, so many in fact, that I it’s hard to remember them all,” said Wayne.
Among the clubs and organizations Robie was associated with were New Hampshire Grange in Hooksett, American Legion Women’s Auxiliary, Hooksett Women’s Club, Hooksett Historical Society, Hooksett Seniors and Eastern Star, and she was a Cub Scouts den mother as well. She and Lloyd traveled to Europe with the Hooksett Entertainers.
“She never stopped. She was always on the go. Seven days a week, she was going somewhere,” said Wayne Robie. “She’d go to school’s to talk about the flood of ‘36 and hurricane of ‘38, and she would participate in the Old Home Days in Hooksett ... pretty much anything that happened in Hooksett, she participated in.”
In 1978, Dorothy and Lloyd Robie were recognized for their civic service when they were named Hooksett Residents of the Year.
She was also heavily involved at the Hooksett Congregational Church, where she participated in Bible studies, women’s fellowship and taught Sunday School for decades. She also baked for the church’s annual strawberry festival.
“She was a pillar of the church family,” said the Rev. Emily B. Geoghegan. “I have to say, she was, in many ways, the heart and the soul of the church. She was very well known for her baking, especially for her lemon squares, but what I remember most about her is that her love for children was radiant. “
“Amongst all this, her greatest joys were her grandchildren and great-grandchildren,” said Demers. “And her extended family was important to her as well. The whole town encompassed her extended family.
Lloyd Robie died in 2006, but Dorothy stayed heavily involved in community, church and family events and activities.
In fact, her son Wayne said her house remained a go-to destination for neighborhood children.
“In her latter years, she always kept a glass jar full of animal crackers, and all the kids on the street would come over and she’d invite them in and send them home with a bag full of animal crackers,” he said. “She was quite an amazing woman.”
“It was really an honor to be her daughter,” said Demers. “I’ve always felt proud of the fact she could handle any situation with graciousness, always with a smile on her face. Even at 96, she was still the light of my life. She got me through a lot of hard times.”
Both children said they have a lifetime of memories, but will always recall fondly their family camping trips in their Volkswagen van and the days spent hanging around the store.
In addition to Demers and her husband Kirk, and Wayne Robie and his wife, Martha Dorothy Robie is survived by her son George and his wife, Diane; seven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren and many nieces, nephews and cousins.
She’ll be laid to rest at a graveside service on June 14 at 1 p.m. at Head Cemetery in Hooksett, and a memorial service follow at 2 p.m. at Hooksett Congregational Church.