Obituary for John Robben
Family request No Flowers, Please make Donations in John's name to www.ForceNetwork.com, a charitable organization for our First Responders.
John Philip Robben was born on February 27, 1930. He grew up in a small bungalow in Edgewater Park in the Bronx, New York. He grew up wanting to be a postman or a writer. His greatest pleasure was to write about events in his life and delivering his observations to as many people and friends who wanted to read them. He succeeded in doing both.
But practically speaking, he had to make a living, and that he did very well. He joined his father, Herman in the juvenile and toy industry and established Robtoy, Incorporated in New York City and Old Greenwich. His claim to fame in the business was to sell a tiny little sign to put inside a car window that said BABY ON BOARD. The sign became ubiquitous, was a financial success, and wound up in a Washington museum.
When John was 19 years old he met a 15 year-old girl named Margie Burger at the St. Benedict’s basketball and dance night. During their four-year courtship John joined the navy and served as Chaplin’s assistant on board the USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN during the Korean War.
John and Margie were married in St Francis Xavier Church in 1954. In the next ten years they had five children: Susan Robben Bisanzo, Janet Robben Smith, Ellen Robben Atkinson, John Ferris Robben, and Robert Francis Robben. John’s family grew further to include Tom Bisanzo, Mark Smith, Tom Atkinson, Laurie Stoltenhoff Robben and Sheila White Robben.
During John’s early years he was an altar boy at St. Francis deChantel Church. He delivered THE BRONX HOME NEWS for years to homes in his neighborhood. In fact, he used the money he made from the newspaper to pay for his tuition at Fordham Prep. He attended P. S. 72 in grammar school, a school he loved.
He received a degree from Fordham University; majoring in English and Philosophy. While at Fordham he started an unexpected correspondence with Ernest Hemingway and keeps the letters in a special bank vault.
John loved the Brooklyn Dodgers and went to Brooklyn many times to see them play. He coached baseball teams for the Old Greenwich/Riverside Community Center.
John had over 500 columns published, including several in the NEW YORK TIMES on the op-ed pages. He won The First Person Award in the READER’S DIGEST, writing a story called AN ELECTRIC NIGHTMARE, a personal experience. He was a special contributor for the GREENWICH TIME and wrote weekly columns. He wrote two autobiographical books, “COMING TO MY SENSES” and “PARTICLES OF TIME.”
For many years he was part of the Emmaus Community in Stamford and was one of their founding members. He had strong opinions about the Roman Catholic Church and how they should be more expansive and inclusive. He always said he was a “ROAMING CATHOLIC”.
John’s 15 grandchildren include: Mark, Catherine, Christopher, Gigi, Gregory, Jordan, Stephen, Thomas, Cameron, Brett, Scott, Bailey Margaret, Patrick, Elizabeth, and Mary Caroline.
John’s younger brother, Tom, lives in upper Connecticut. John is pre-deceased by his mother, Edith Ferris Robben of Sligo, Ireland; his father, Herman Robben of New York City; and beloved grandmother, Thirza Lawrence Ferris of Sligo, Ireland.
John was a good man…………
Services will be held Wednesday, October 11, 2017 at First Congregational Church in Old Greenwich at 12:30. Donations in John's name may be made to www.ForceNetwork.com, a charitable organization for our First Responders. Castiglione Funeral Home will handle the arrangements, to leave an online condolence please visit www.castiglionefh.com