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John ‘Jr’ Robbins Jr., 90, worked his way from deckhand at 16 to founding a tugboat business

John "Jr" Robbins Jr.
John “Jr” Robbins Jr.

John “Jr” Robbins Jr., of Virginia Beach, was taken by the Lord on Nov. 10, 2015, at his home. He was 90.

John was born in Whitestone on Sept. 18, 1925, to John and Annie Lee Robbins. Jr. was married for 50 years and was preceded in death by his loving wife, Ruth S. Robbins, in 1995. He had seven siblings, Raymond Robbins (deceased), Harry Robbins (deceased), Wallace Robbins (deceased), Mary Custus Robbins (deceased) and was survived by brothers Palmer Robbins, Meredith Robbins and his sister, Sarah Douglas.

He leaves behind a legacy of children, Raymond G. Robbins, Lynn “Chee Chee” Robbins and John C. Robbins III as well as grandchildren, Jude Aurilio, Jarrod Robbins, Nicole Stephens, Dustin Robbins, Corinne Robbins, Jack Stephens II, Crystal Whitham, Raymond “Ross” Robbins and Lauren Robbins.

Jr. left for Norfolk when he was 14 to support his family during WWII. At 16 he worked his way up from deckhand and became the captain of his first vessel, the Florence. During this time he worked as a merchant mariner taking various convoys including one to Casablanca, Africa where he was one of the only vessels to make it past the German U-boats.

Upon return from the war he began working as captain on tugboats for Southern Materials. He then began working at Colonna’s Shipyard where he purchased his first vessel, the tug Lookout. While working for Colonna’s Shipyard, Jr. was in charge of barge and marine operations and then moved on to vice president of Sadler materials in 1962. He managed the marine division, including the oversight of the sand and gravel operations.

Within this same period Jr. founded a tugboat business that is still successful within the family. John was an extremely hard working family man who put his family and friends first any day of the week. He was a man of his word, a lifelong mariner and an admirer of the water.

A viewing will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at H. D. Oliver Funeral Apts., 2002 Laskin Road, Virginia Beach, VA 23454. A celebration of life and burial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, at Great Neck Baptist Church, 1020 General Jackson Drive, Virginia Beach, VA 23454.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to the Mariner’s Museum of Newport News, 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606.

“If you go fast you won’t last, if you go slow you’ll go some mo’.” – John C. Robbins

Please leave online condolences for the family at H.D. Oliver Funeral Apts.

To view the full list of Southside Daily obituaries, click here.

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