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Donor Stories

The Robbins

Robert and Dorothy Robbins

The son of UI alumni has created a $425,000 endowment to honor his parents Robert and Dorothy Robbins.

Dean Robbins, a California attorney, has partnered with the University of Idaho College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS) to establish a $425,000 endowment honoring his parents and their commitment to higher education via the Robert and Dorothy Robbins Faculty Fellowship Endowment.

Robbins’ mom, Dorothy Wiley Robbins, born in 1923 in Kalispell, Montana, spent her first year on the homestead farm of her Norwegian grandparents before moving to the Coeur d’Alene area. She was active in 4-H and attended a summer 4-H program at the University of Idaho. Her family lived in the country and relied on their own vegetable garden and farm animals to supplement purchased groceries.

Dorothy began studying home economics at the UI in the fall of 1941, continuing as a student until the spring of 1943.

Robert Robbins grew up at the opposite end of Idaho. Born in May 1919 in Wilder, he, too, lived on his family’s farm. In high school, he was active in the FFA program. His UI studies in horticulture began in the fall of 1938. He returned home to Wilder during summer vacations and worked at the university’s extension farm in Parma (today’s Parma Research & Extension Center).

The couple met on campus in 1941, introduced by Dorothy’s older brother, Bob Wiley. Robert graduated in 1942 and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a result of his ROTC training. They married in Coeur d’Alene in January 1943.

During the war, Robert served in Europe with the U. S. Army's 8th Infantry Division. After World War II, Dorothy and Robert lived with their three sons in Twin Falls where Robert worked for a seed production company. In 1954, the family moved to northern California. Robert and Dorothy lived in Santa Cruz County an hour south of San Francisco for more than 52 years.

Robert spent most of his professional career working for the United States Department of Agriculture as a quality control inspector of locally grown fresh and frozen vegetables and fruits. Dorothy was an active homemaker. After their sons entered school, Dorothy worked part-time as a church secretary; she worked full-time in libraries of the local public schools after all three sons had graduated from high school.

Throughout their married life, Robert and Dorothy shared an enthusiasm for agriculture, nutritious family meals, and a commitment to higher education opportunities for their sons. They nurtured their family with home vegetable gardens and fruit trees, homemade meals shared with family and friends, camping trips, and travel. Robert passed away in 2007, and Dorothy passed away three years later.

Their endowment, established by their youngest son Dean, acknowledges the valuable impact which the University of Idaho had on both Robert and Dorothy Robbins and supports their strong interests in agricultural production and nutrition.

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