Ann Montgomery Robinson
July 8, 1939-Dec. 7, 2023
Palo Alto, California
Ann M. Robinson, a longtime resident of Palo Alto, passed away on December 7, 2023, surrounded by family and caregivers.
Ann was born the first child of John H. Montgomery and Virginia E. Price on July 8, 1939, in Champaign, Illinois. As a child, Ann moved with her parents and younger brother, from Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, to Chevy Chase, Maryland, and then to Austin and Fort Worth, Texas, and learned to make friends anywhere she lived. Ann told stories about the schools she attended, the neighborhoods she lived in, the people she met, and the summers she spent with her tight-knit extended family in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Ann graduated from Paschal High School in Fort Worth in 1957 and headed to Texas Tech University. She joined the sorority Gamma Phi Beta and had fun and enjoyed college life while earning a bachelor’s in Advertising Art and Design. After graduating in 1962, Ann moved from Lubbock to Dallas, where she worked as a Graphic Artist for the firms Ling-Tempco-Vought Company and G. Fredrick Shepherd; as an Art Instructor for the Dallas Independent School District, the Art Department at North Texas State University, and Southern Methodist University; and as a freelance artist for several accounts. During this time, she traveled to Sweden on the Experiment in International Living in the summer of 1964, earned a Master of Arts at North Texas State University (1967), and started a Ph.D. in Education. She also produced art for public exhibitions and private collections and created the films “Light Conversations,” “Things Making It: Kinetics of Francis Stephens,” and “Once Upon a Time There Was This Man Called Moses.” The latter screened at the Northaven United Methodist Church, where she met her husband, William "Rob" Robinson (1939-2022).
Ann said she liked Rob because he was entertaining and very bright. The couple spent their courtship going to art shows and collaborating on posters and productions for Northaven. They married in the church on August 28, 1965, and settled in the Dallas suburb Farmers Branch. In 1969, Ann moved with Rob and their black Labrador, Daffy, to Palo Alto, California.
Between 1969 and 1973, Ann taught for the Laguna Salada Union Schools in Pacifica and produced the film “A Summer School Experience” for the district. When her first child was born, she launched AMR Graphics, which she operated out of her home's garage or "studio." Ann designed logos, menus, and local campaign posters there, met with clients, collaborated with Rob on family projects, and prepared activities for her children and their friends: tie-dye t-shirts were a favorite.
Ann’s career pivoted after the birth of her second child, who was born with Cystic Fibrosis. She had founded the alternative birthing center, The Birthplace, with a group of volunteers, nurses, and doctors, so by 1979, when she became one of a dozen or so volunteers at Cystic Fibrosis Research, Inc. (CRFI), Ann was prepared to grow the then small non-profit organization. As her youngest child lived and grew up with CF, Ann became more involved in CFRI’s mission to educate families and raise money for CF research. Within 20 years, she went from part-time volunteer to the first full-time executive director. Her art and educational background took a new form. Through events like the Mother’s Day Tea and the CFRI annual conferences, she helped raise thousands of dollars for CF research and disseminate knowledge about medical breakthroughs. Her unwavering optimism about finding a cure for CF matched her commitment to helping families grapple with the disease. She supported families through the most challenging times by connecting them to the broader CF community. Her work with CFRI touched legions of people worldwide.
Ann loved to entertain her family and friends with food at social gatherings. Her cooking of food was as bountiful as her recipe boxes and binders, which overflowed with family and friends’ recipes. She lavished her son-in-law with lasagna and her nephews with fresh California fruit from DeMartini's. She made twice-baked potatoes for holiday suppers, prepared soups, salads, and biscuits regularly for others, and tested lots of apple cake recipes. She'd go out for lunch or dinner, but her home and garden were where she most ate in community with others.
Ann was a storyteller. As the oldest child and cousin in the Price clan, she was the keeper of many family stories. She used stories as currency to teach her children, nieces, and nephews about where and who they came from and to buoy people who needed a good story about CF. Sometimes, her stories were about funny things that happened in college or the early years of motherhood. Other times, the stories held lessons of perseverance and healing. Her stories taught her children to “vote with their feet,” seek connection with others, get educated, and not just sit there; do something!
In retirement, Ann stayed busy. She joined weekday water aerobics classes at the Palo Alto YMCA, where she became a regular party planner, planning birthday parties and weekly luncheons for other devoted swimmers. She also volunteered at Stanford University Hospital as a parent advocate for CF families, keeping up with medical advancements and her commitment to helping those with the disease.
All this time, Ann kept a meditation practice, first in classes and then with a group of women who faithfully met weekly for meditation and prayer. Her practice sustained friendships and gave her the wisdom to speak, act, and advocate for others. She could keep smiling, see beauty, and stay hopeful even when life brought the toughest challenges. In this way, Ann saw the potential in everything around her. From the tumbleweed of Texas, which became the family Christmas tree one year, to the progress of CF research, she focused on the creative potential of events, people, and the world. Ann was mindful, healing, intuitive, quick-witted, giving, and purposeful in her projects, friendships, and family. She kept people connected to each other and to causes.
Her legacy of love carries on in the lives of her children, Clare and Carl Robinson, three beloved grandchildren, a son-in-law and daughter-in-law, her brother John Montgomery, nieces and nephews, cousins, and many, many friends.
Tags: arts/media, teacher/educator, public service