Video: Robbins honored for ‘a life well spent’

Marston station named in honor of late Hoffman Fire & Rescue chief 

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Video

MARSTON — Twin 4-year-olds Carson and Levi Boyle didn’t know what the letters spelled on the granite monument, or what the message conveyed.

But if they don’t find out until tomorrow or the day after that, that’s sort of the point.

Nearly 60 members of the Hoffman and Marston communities joined members of Hoffman Fire and Rescue, dignitaries and first-responders from across Richmond County Sunday afternoon to honor the late Ray Robbins Jr. by naming the Marston station in his honor His dedication to family, and his extended family that included just about everyone who lived in the area, will live on if not forever, then indefinitely.

Robbins served the Hoffman and Marston communities for more than 40 years. He died died April 16, 2013, at the age of 58. It took more than a year for his wife of 37 years, Nancy Sherrill Robbins, to be ready for such a ceremony. Despite the delay to unveil the monument, which was set in place some six months ago, it was still difficult.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Carson and Levi Boyles, of Ellerbe, look at the monument in honor of their grandfather, Warren "Ray" Robbins Jr., as members of Hoffman Fire and Rescue dedicated the Marston station in his honor Sunday afternoon.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Carson and Levi Boyle, of Ellerbe, look at the monument in honor of their grandfather, Warren “Ray” Robbins Jr., as members of Hoffman Fire and Rescue dedicated the Marston station in his honor Sunday afternoon.

Until Sunday, Nancy Robbins said, “I just couldn’t do it.”

But from the beginning, Robbins said she’s continued to pass along family stories to her family, including her granddaughter, Caroline, 4, along with Carson and Levi, of Ellerbe.

Robbins’ top message she’ll convey to the younger generation: “Just how much he loved them. He loved being a grandpa.”

Ray Robbins Jr. was full of love, and Rev. Dr. Jim Ritter, of Marston Baptist Church, used the Bible to illustrate how Robbins’ love for mankind employed him as a co-founder of the Hoffman Rescue Squad.

“Love one another,” Ritter read from the book of John. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Ritter then read the Fireman’s Prayer and the Firefighter’s Pledge. Both poems, Ritter said, fit Robbins perfectly and reflected his commitment to a safer, better place to live, work and play.

When an emergency call for help comes in and “when firemen go out, they lay down their life anytime they answer,” Ritter said. “Ray was a volunteer in the truest sense of the word. He loved the Marston community.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Nancy Sherrill Robbins, wife of the late Ray Robbins Jr. for 37 years until his death in April 2013, embraces Hoffman Fire and Rescue Chief Frank McKay after a monument in her husband's honor is unveiled at the Marston station.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Nancy Sherrill Robbins, wife of the late Ray Robbins Jr. for 37 years until his death in April 2013, embraces Hoffman Fire and Rescue Chief Frank McKay after a monument in her husband’s honor is unveiled at the Marston station.

Richmond County Commissioner Ben Moss stood in for fellow commissioner and Hoffman native Don Bryant, who was unable to attend. Moss said the lifetime commitment of Robbins’ volunteer spirit is rare.

“Nowadays, we live in a world when 40 years of dedication and service is about unheard of,” Moss said.

Moss read a proclamation from the commissioners that praised Robbins’ sacrifice, calling it “a life well spent.”

Hoffman Mayor Tommy Hart said he wouldn’t know how to save someone, or even himself, if his house were on fire.

“So I thank God for Ray,” Hart said.

Frank McKay, who took over as squad chief from Robbins in 2011, recalled Robbins served as chief of Hoffman Fire and Rescue from 1984, when Hoffman Rescue merged — at his prompting — with the Hoffman Fire Department to 1990. A decade later, Robbins began a second stint as chief, this time for 11 years.

McKay said Robbins had vision, and it was largely due to him that the Marston station was building and opened in 2007. McKay, who was recruited to Hoffman Fire and Rescue by Robbins, called Robbins a friend.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Family members of the late Ray Robbins Jr. gather in front the Hoffman Fire and Rescue Marston station for the unveiling of the monument in Robbins' memory.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Family members of the late Ray Robbins Jr. gather in front the Hoffman Fire and Rescue Marston station for the unveiling of the monument in Robbins’ memory.

“I can’t count five close friends, but Ray is one of them I can count,” McKay said. “If it hadn’t been for his vision, we wouldn’t be sitting here today in this nice building.”

Before unveiling the monument — created by Robbins’ friend, Eric Evans, from Custom Monuments in Rockingham — McKay handed Robbins’ wife a shadow box that included the late fire chief’s helmet badge.

 

Filed in: Featured News, Hoffman, Latest Headlines, News, Public safety

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