Wayne and Lavon Robinson:
Wayne Claude Robinson was born March 22, 1925 in Rio Vista, California to Earl L. Robinson and Vada A. Gaddis Robinson. The family lived on the north side of Venice Hill near Ivanhoe, California. His father was a foreman on the Linger Longer Ranch that farmed citrus. His Brother, Leonard, was born there. His mother thought Wayne was smart enough to start first grade when he was 5 years old. His teacher would pick him up at the end of the driveway to go to the Venice Hill Elementary School House.
His father got a job on the Stone Corral Ranch. While there, he would walk south to get guitar lessons from Cowboy Hanna. That would be Joe and Jack Hanna’s father.
When their house burned down, they lost everything they had. That forced them to move to Exeter and lived in a few places until his parents divorced. He lived with his mother and brother on her rental property in Exeter.
He started going to the Church of God on his own as a teen-ager. There he became lifelong best friends with the pastor’s son, James “J.L.” Hook and Paul Chambers.
Dad graduated from Exeter High School in 1942. After graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard during World War II and ended up stationed in Alameda on Governor’s Island. He and a friend visited the Richmond Church of God and there he was introduced to Audrey Lavon Liston. It happened to be her 18th birthday. He walked her home that evening and they intentionally ended up walking an extra block before they got there. Mom already had a strong interest in dad. I think it was mutual feeling.
After dad got shipped out to the Philippine Islands. Mom decided to go to Pacific Bible College, now called Warner Pacific College, in Portland, Oregon.
Audrey Lavon Liston was born March 14, 1925 to Everett and Ethel Cardin Liston in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She grew up mostly in Ripley, Oklahoma. She started piano lessons from a lady in the Ripley Church of God. The family couldn’t afford a piano, so her father made a wooden keyboard with painted black and white keys to practice on between lessons.
When her family moved to Richmond, California, Lavon stayed behind with her uncle’s family to finish her junior year of high school in Moore, Oklahoma. She rode to California with her Uncle Earl in a dump truck. She graduated from Richmond High School in 1943.
Mom hadn’t finished her first year of college, when dad came back from the Philippines. After attending a year at Warner Pacific, she could no longer stand the distance apart and she came home to Richmond. She and Dad were married on July 14, 1945 in the Richmond Church of God; he in his Coast Guard uniform and mom in her white wedding dress. The war was over in December of 1945. Dad was discharged and went to work at Standard Oil Company in Richmond.
Rodney was born June 12, 1946. Six months later, they all moved to Exeter, California. They lived on Wayne’s mother’s property in the second cabin next to her.
Dad started work at Spaulding Lumber Yard in Exeter. Later on, he worked for Justison’s Grocery Store in Visalia across from the old courthouse on Court St. He was taught how to butcher meat by Miles Doss. He also met Mr. Sheppard who later started his own grocery store in the Patterson Tract. We lived behind that store in our first house in Visalia. Mom and Dad started going to the Visalia Church of God when it was still located across from Lincoln Oval Park. By the time we moved to Visalia, dad had already started work at Knudsen Dairy plant. He delivered milk products to the local mom and pop grocery stores. After a couple of years, he ran into an opportunity to buy out a small grocery store in Exeter. He and mom began a partnership with Sleepy and Marie Sutton and they named the store S & R Market located at the S.E. corner of Pine St. and Filbert Ave. Dad became the butcher. The whole family was involved in the business. This lasted about 4 years and they eventually sold out their interest to Sleepy and Marie so the family had more quality time together.
Dad went to work as an agent for National Life and Accident Insurance Company for the next 10 years. Dad had been talking to Bill Ellis at the post office and was offered his last chance to earn a retirement pension if started right away. He was there until retirement after 25 years.
Saundra was born February 17, 1949. We were still living on Grandmother’s property. Wayne’s mother would baby sit Rod and Saundra while mom worked in the office of C & S Tire Company. It was still on the S.E. corner of Pine St. and “F” St. When we moved to Visalia, mom went to work for J.C. Penny’s Dept. Store on the N.W. corner of Main St. and Court St. At that time, Grandma Liston was living with them and babysitting Rod and Saundra. They moved back to Exeter when they bought the grocery store. After they sold the store, mom went to work for Cantrell’s Market on Visalia Rd. for Ernie and Babe Cantrell. Her next job was with the Bank of America on the corner of Pine St. and “E” St. where she retired in 1982 after working 25 years.
After retiring from the bank, she did book keeping for a jewelry store on Pine St. then did the books for Evan’s Funeral Home on Kaweah Ave. until dad retired from the Exeter Post Office.
Mom and dad were very active in all of the church congregations. This included Exeter, Visalia, Porterville churches and in Oregon at the Forest Grove and Woodburn churches. They were very talented and dedicated to the music ministry. Dad lead the congregational singing in Exeter while mom played either the piano or organ trading off with Melva Curtis or Esther Nunneley. Dad was also involved with church construction projects in Forest Grove and Woodburn.
Mom would organize and practice with several musical groups at our house. All of this had a great influence on their children. This included a youth trumpet trio with Rodney, Bruce Brandt, and Steve Nunneley. There was a youth male gospel quartet with Rodney, Larry Curtis, Bruce Brandt, and Steve Nunneley. Mom was also involved with a lady’s gospel octet and played piano for the church choir.
Dad performed solos for church, weddings and funerals. He also directed the song service for several Easter Sunrise services on Rocky Hill that brought far reaching attendees.
Mom and dad had an early interest in midget car races while living in Richmond. This changed to early stock car races then NASCAR races they would watch on TV for the rest of their lives. Dad, being influenced by his brother Leonard, got involved in outboard boating. We all learned how to water ski. This activity would be shared with friends and youth group outings and vacations. Dad’s brother also got them traveling on a motorcycle.
Dad earliest interest was flying. He joined a flying club and flew cross country to Nevada, Oklahoma and Arkansas to visit relatives. He would take friends and relatives for rides in the plane.
Their retirement included traveling with a camper trailer or a motorhome that included Florida, Wisconsin at the Oskosh fly-in, Oklahoma, Sturgis motorcycle rally, Mount Rushmore and more.
After traveling, they settled in Woodburn, Oregon and bought a home. They attended the Woodburn Church of God for the next 20 years. The next four years were spent in assisted living in Hillsboro, Oregon and in Forest Grove, Oregon. Their daughter, Saundra, would look after them and run errands. Their son, Rod, visited periodically until their passing.
Graveside Memorial will be held on Saturday, November 13th, 2021 at the Exeter District Cemetery at 12:00 P.M.......
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