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Verna Cotten Robinson

October 6, 1927 ~ February 24, 2018 (age 90)
VERNA COTTEN ROBINSON On Friday, February 23, 2018 at her daughter's home in Los Angeles, CA. Verna Cotten Robinson was born on October 6, 1927, in Enfield, North Carolina, to Ida Mae and Ernest Cotten. She had six brothers and sisters, Dequincy, Russell, Gloria, Claytese and Clara and the youngest Cusic Cotten. Verna attended North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University) at the age of 16 where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in English in 1948. She then went on to Carnegie Mellon Institute (known at the time as Carnegie Institute of Technology) where she graduated with a Masters of Library Science in 1950. In 1951 she became the Serials Librarian at Howard University where she met her future husband Attorney Elbert C. Robinson. They married in 1953, and their daughter Angela Robinson Witherspoon was born in 1954. Their son, Elbert "Bert" Cotten Robinson, was born three years later. Elbert became the Labor Attache to the American Embassy in the Hague in 1967, appointed by President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Verna, Angela and Bert were delighted to go with him. The family lived in the Netherlands for over three years. They traveled extensively around Europe during holidays to France, England, Germany, Spain, Italy and learned to ski in Gstaad, Switzerland. They enjoyed visiting the cultural institutions of Europe and took Angela and Bert to see the works of the Masters at the Louvre Museum in Paris, the Prado Museum in Madrid, and the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence. While in Holland, Verna worked as a librarian at the American School in the Hague. When they returned to Washington, she returned to her job at Roosevelt. Verna's career spanned over 32 years with the District of Columbia Public School system. She served as the High School Librarian at Spingarn, Cardoza and Roosevelt High Schools with 25 years of her tenure served at Roosevelt. Verna retired from the school system in 1986 and tried her hand at the Travel Industry, where she worked at Henderson Travel Agency in Washington, DC. Verna and Elbert's union lasted 38 years until his death in 1992. After Elbert's death, Verna was thrust into managing all of the assets that they had acquired. Bert and Angela helped her create a successful family corporation, Robinson Property Management. Bert assisted her in managing the daily operations. Through the corporation, the family always offered affordable rentals to low income families of the District of Columbia for over 25 years. Verna was an avid supporter of Washington's performing arts organizations, among them, Arena Stage and the Kennedy Center. She also was a generous anonymous contributor to many local causes. Verna was very thankful for her many blessings in life and kept a gratitude journal for over 20 years. The full bookshelves in Verna's home were a testament to her love of poetry and literature. She was rarely seen without a book in her hand or nearby. Verna took particular pleasure in reading the works of African American women like Toni Morrison and Alice Walker. Throughout her adult life, Verna was an enthusiastic daily walker and was well known around her neighborhood. Verna was proud to be a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and was a longtime member of the African American Women's Association. Verna and Elbert joined Lincoln Congregational Temple United Church of Christ in 1959, where Verna served on the Deacon Board for many years. Elbert helped to develop the Lincoln-Westmoreland Senior Citizen Housing Development that continues to this day. Verna is survived by her brother, Cusic Cotten (Eva); her daughter, Angela Robinson Witherspoon (John); her son, Elbert C. Robinson; her grandchildren, Ciara Robinson, John David Witherspoon (Pilar) and Alexander Witherspoon; numerous nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
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