CELEBRATING THE LIFE OF JAMES PATON ROBINSON, M.D.
Baba-lover, seeker, healer, husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, friend,
and master bread baker!
We continue to remember Jim with great fondness.
James Paton Robinson, M.D. left this earth April 23, 2004, after minor surgery, due to a medication overdose by hospital error.
Jim was born May 13, 1944, in Seattle, Washington, the son of Verna Paton Robinson and John Franklin Robinson. He grew up in Seattle with nine siblings and attended Catholic school. After army service, Jim settled in Hampton, Virginia, and graduated from the College of William and Mary. He completed medical school at the Medical College of Virginia, and a psychiatric residency at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
Jim was a wonderful physician, but truly this capacity derived from his passion for God. It was Jim’s search for deeper understanding of God’s Truth that led him to his long association with Meher Baba, who was, for Jim, the ultimate source of information about love for God. The precepts Jim learned from his Catholic training were reinforced by the words of Meher Baba, and provided an invaluable foundation for his search to better understand the precision and nuance of God’s grace.
Jim took what he found in his spiritual preparation and crafted it into a life of service. He sought guidance both from his Catholic discipline and from the silent wisdom of Meher Baba, who said: “How can one be a good doctor and use science best? It is very simple. Through love. If you love your work, you can do it with love, and anything that is done with love has perfect results. To be a good doctor always have in mind that to you all patients—good or bad, big or small—are equal. Treat with as much care and interest a beggar as you would a millionaire, and in case you find that you are not paid the price, you must not for a moment think of refusing…” (Meher Baba).
Associated with Waccamaw Mental Health in Conway, SC, since December 2002, Jim found that he preferred public mental health as a way to more easily serve the disadvantaged. He treated his patients with the respect he showed to colleagues and friends. He had a vulnerability that did not easily shield him from his patients’ distress, and he often shared their sufferings. He took time to listen and process the stories of his clients.
Jim had a superlative, fluid mind, exceeded only by the quality of his heart. These he harnessed to live his faith and fulfill his desire to be of service. He understood our mutual equality as beings of One Father, and sought to find God within the heart of everyone he was destined to help.
Many who loved him, and whom he loved, will miss Jim. These include his stepmother Nancy Robinson; nine siblings (Dave, John, Mel, Mike and Tim, Jeannie Cunningham, Trish Noland, Ressie Smith and Virginia Welch) and their families; first wife Jeannette Robinson and daughter Sarah Gray Robinson; mentors Adele Wolkin and Judge Henry Kashouty and wife Kecha Kashouty; stepsons Tommy and Charlie Eaton, stepdaughter Marie Romanczuk and her husband, Robert Haynes; grandbabies Reyna Haynes and Makayla Ann Cook; and his wife, Bevan. Jim loved his family deeply, and had deep regard for his friends in the Meher Baba community.
His colleagues at Waccamaw Center for Mental Health were also held dear in his heart. These colleagues deserve full credit, as they do front line battle against an illness which is often misunderstood and underserved. He likewise felt a deep admiration for the client/patients God brought his way.
To recognize these attributes of Jim does not imply that he was not also fully human with all the faults and foibles that we human subjects share. His faults too he marshaled and offered full-fisted to his Lord God to be surrendered at his feet. He lived and died this way, for all the time I knew him on this earth. Jim’s great and tender heart would want those he leaves behind to help each other without ado, with full assurance that God hides within each human form.
Transcription of a few handwritten notes from Jim to Bevan:
2-20-98: Dear Bevan, Your openness & honesty (which probably just feels like suffering to you!) has allowed me to feel my connection to you and the whole Myrtle Beach community as a sibling, more deeply than with the family I knew as a child. See you in two weeks! Love, Jim.
May 1998: Jai Baba Bevan Dear! Greyhound bus station, Richmond, VA, 4 a.m., during 4 hour layover. I guess I am not so enamored of bus travel after all. I am thinking of you with love, and gratitude for the wonderful happiness you bring into my life. See you soon! Love, Jim.
6/29/98: Dear Bevan, Thank you, Darling, for making this see Baba’s America trip possible for me! Please give my love to Tommy and Charlie. Don’t worry, be happy till we meet again! Love, Jim.
Poem written atop a take-home box at a restaurant in Williamsburg, VA, probably in 2000/ 2001:
Though Marigolds bloom in Spring,
Your smile, shy and knowing,
Called through the snows to what
You saw and knew…
No mind; no time for that.
Heart, dancing, quickly, paying the price
For its own beauty
Through its own bleeding,
You called forth tribes of seekers without and within me
Now even, you do not know. It is more pearl
Than one oyster can hold
To be both the ear and the song.
9/25/03: Thank you for your Kindness, Humility and Goodness, which, like the rain opens a flower, break through my dense mind with soft hands and allow me to feel my love for you. Happy Birthday! Jim.
A nice note from Kim W.:
May 2, 2004
My thoughts are without you today during the memorial service. I recall how loving Jim was when I spoke with him at the Dilruba Tea recently. He gave so much to the teas—his concern for the happiness of the children resulted in the creation of the special playroom and a renewed creative focus. I always admired him for his work at Dilruba. You know how crowded it always was when the community knew (and some kept up with the actual dates) of the teas you and Jim hosted together. I am so happy for you that you had such special years together. The obituary in the Sun News was very poignant and I am sure it touched the hearts and minds of many who read it.
Our family sends our love to you in Baba, Kim, Walter and Zoe Witkowski.