Mrs. Norien Robinson’s 100th birthday was celebrated Saturday, Aug. 7 at New Birth Baptist Church in Natchez. The celebration was in the Paul Turner Fellowship Hall. Guests abided by Covid-19 regulations by wearing facial masks and social distancing, especially with the special honoree.
The scripture for the occasion was Psalm 91:16, “With long life will satisfy Him and show Him my salvation.”
City Councilwoman Patsy Ward-Hoover served as the Mistress of Ceremony. Invocation was by the Rev. Jerald Danzell, Pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church. Words of welcome were given by Norien’s daughter-in-law, Gwendolyn Robinson. Two vocal solos were rendered by Detra Johnson. A brief biography of Sis. Norien was told by Min. Jacqueline Page, which brought the audience to a standing ovation.
There were several presentations given on behalf of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and his office. The representatives included Roderick Scott, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Mike McClanahan, NAACP La State Conference President. Representing State Rep. Kenny Cox was Edward Ward. Councilwoman Ward-Hoover made a presentation on district two, in which Mrs. Norien resides.
Her son, Merylin Robinson spoke about his mother being strict, even though he didn’t always follow the rules, which had everyone burst out into laughter. Deacon Milton Edmond made a presentation on behalf of the Pentecost Baptist Church. Min. Jacqueline Page sang songs that “Mama used to sing,” with audience participation. Blessing of the food was by Pastor Roosevelt Toussaint. A slideshow presentation was shown and closing prayer was by Pastor Rufus Sowell Sr.
Robinson was born to the late Lee Alexander and Avis Wilson in the Cypress Community in Natchitoches Parish Aug. 7, 1921.
Growing up as a child, everyone knew each other from working in the cottonfield. A love of nature and gardening were instilled in her by her grandmother, Mrs. Phelow. Therefore, she loved the outdoors and she still loves the outdoors to this day. “Everyone know each other, therefore family was close and everybody raised and tended to each other’s children,” said Norien.
She went to school during the good weather months, from August to December. January and February were the rainy months. She only attended premier to second grade. She has to walk to school and when she did not have shoes to wear, she stayed home.
While working in the cottonfields, she met and married Nathaniel Robinson May 5, 1947. The Rev. John Gaines officiated their wedding. Robinson attended church at Pentecost under Rev. Gaines for years, and was also an usher in the church. She helped Nathaniel raise his four children: Nathaniel Jr., Meryland, Cloggie Lee and Willie.
Determined to never give up, something she learned from her grandmother, she worked and took care of the family. In the early 1990s, she was still cutting her own grass, planting gardens and raising chickens. She learned to drive as the age of 50. She continued to drive, which brought her joy because she felt free. Plants and seeds from the Earth were used for medications, a salve or tea for whatever sickness she had.
“I did the best I could holding the Robinson family together with love, laughter and support from my mother and father,” said Norien. She lost her husband Feb. 26, 1970. She has been through countless historical events, pandemics, floods and viruses. Covid-19 was not a new experience. She did not think twice when a vaccine was available; she was ready.
Matriarch of the Robinson family, she has outlived all of her siblings and family members in her generation. Her secret to longevity is “staying with the Good Lord and giving thanks every day.” Robinson is in good health, slow to move, but takes walks in her yard daily. Her appetite is in small portions and drinks plenty of water. “Keep moving! The Lord will do the rest,” she said.