A Renaissance woman from beginning to end.
Dr. Grace Sylvia Cachie Robinson was born in Harlem, New York on January 21, 1927 and was one of six children.
She came into the world at the crossroads of two of America’s most defining chapters in its history – the Great Depression and the Harlem Renaissance. One chapter represented the testimony of a family’s ability to survive the county’s worst economic downturn while the other embraced the intellectual, social and artistic blooming of African American culture. Both events shaped Robinson’s upbringing.
Robinson’s humble beginnings took her from Harlem to Brooklyn to Queens. She graduated from Brooklyn College sharing the hallways with Shirley Chisholm, a family friend who eventually became the first black woman elected to the House of Representatives in 1968.
She married Joseph Robinson in 1947, and a few years later, she gave birth to her only child, Karen.
Robinson was a proud educator in the New York City public school system. During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she was part of a coalition of elementary teachers who traveled to Virginia in the summer and offered free instruction to students. At the time, Virginia lawmakers closed schools instead of integrating them. Robinson taught classes through local churches in Prince Edward County.
She received her Ph.D in education from NYU and dedicated 20 years to the New York public school system as a teacher.
After her retirement, Robinson left Queens and moved to Nigeria where she spent almost a decade teaching at the University of Jos. From there, Robinson moved to Zimbabwe where she continued her career as an educator. In both counties, Robinson owned farms with animals and she grew her own food.
During her 20+ years in Africa, Robinson developed a love for sculptures and became an avid collector of silk stone.
Robinson relocated to North Carolina in the early 2000s to become closer to her two grandchildren Kirstin and Kendall Garriss. After spending about a decade in Wake Forest, she moved to Atlanta, GA and lived near her brother, Albert, for several years.
Shortly after that, Robinson started showing signs of dementia and moved back to North Carolina. Her memory wasn’t as sharp as it used to be but her smile was still bright and her eyes lit up whenever you visited her room.
Robinson passed away peacefully on September 9, 2020 in the comfort of home with her daughter by her side.
Grace Robinson would often use the Shona greeting "Zvakanaka" with family and friends. It’s a phrase that means a variety of salutations from “stay well” to “go well” to “I love you.”
From birth to death, Robinson was the epitome of a Renaissance woman – "Zvakanaka" and rest well.
Dr. Grace Sylvia Robinson, age 93, of Raleigh, departed this life on Thursday, September 10, 2020.
Funeral, 12 Noon, Friday, September 18, 2020, at Steven L. Lyons Funeral Home, 1515 New Bern Avenue, Raleigh. The Rev. Dr. David C. Forbes, Sr., Officiating. Visitation, 11:30 AM to 12 noon, prior to the service. Public viewing, 12 Noon to 8 PM, Thursday, September 17, 2020 at the funeral home.
Survivors: daughter, Karen Y. Robinson-Garris of Raleigh; brother, Albert Cachie of Atlanta, GA; grandchildren, Kirstin Garriss and Kendall Garriss; nieces, Chanisse Fitchett and Christina Cachie; nephews, Michael Cachie and Brian Cachie; and a host of other relatives and friends including the nieces and nephews of the Livingston family.
In memory of Dr. Grace Cachie-Robinson, the family asks that gifts be directed to UNC Department of Neurology to aid in the research needed to continue to combat Alzheimer’s and other memory diseases. Checks should be made payable to the UNC Health Foundation. Please note on the check that it is a memorial for Dr. Grace Cachie-Robinson. Donations may be sent to UNC Health Foundation, 123 West Franklin Street, Suite 510, Chapel Hill, NC 27516 or they can be made online here: unchf.org/uncneuroresearch. If you have questions, please contact: Aron Johnson, UNC Department of Neurology: 910-409-2973.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dr. Grace Sylvia Cachie-Robinson, please visit our floral store.
UNC Health Foundation
123 West Franklin Street, Suite 510, Chapel Hill NC 27516