ROCKDALE Beth Patrick Robinette has kept a low profile for the past two years since COVID-19 began taking lives in Kentucky, and she now prefers to avoid large public crowds. But on June 11, she will make up for lost time by celebrating her 100th birthday at Rose Hill Baptist Church with her family and friends. And many people fall into one of those categories for the popular former teacher, who has relatives scattered around the area.
Robinette taught fourth grade for more than 30 years, starting at Cannonsburg Elementary School, before moving to Summit Elementary.
“I liked it,” Robinette said of teaching. She also taught Sunday School at Rose Hill for at least a double-digit number of years, while also teaching Vacation Bible School there.
The centurion was born on June 5, 1922, near Forest Branch, Floyd County. She grew up with her siblings, Irene and Mark, and her parents, Alvin and Nora Patrick. When Robinette was young, her mother died of typhoid fever. Her father later remarried and Robinette has six half-sisters – Eunice, Mazie, Marcie, Vera, Kay and Ruth.
“I didn’t play too much,” Robinette said of her childhood. She graduated from the old Garrett High School and attended Caney Junior College (known as Alice Lloyd College since the death of co-founder Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd in 1962) in Pippa Passes and Morehead State Teachers College.
The Centurion narrowly missed the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, which ended in 1920, and World War I which ended on November 11, 1918. Evil was still very present after the war, however, with Adolph Hitler leading the Nazi Party in a failed coup by the German government in 1923, and going to prison. Hitler’s subsequent attempt at betrayal was initially successful and led to World War II, which had a big impact on Robinette.
“I went to Detroit and made ship parts,” Robinette said of her role and the role that many women contributed to the World War II effort. Robinette said she was 20 when she moved to Catlettsburg and lived with her aunt Ethel Martin. She said she was then attending Caney College and added, “I graduated from Morehead.”
In May 1985 Robinette retired and later that year her husband Elmer Robinette died. Mr. Robinette also participated in the war effort, serving in World War II. Like Ms. Robinette, Mr. Robinette was also well known in the community. For many years he owned a very successful auto repair shop and tow business.
“Yeah, a lot of them,” Robinette replied with a laugh, when asked if she used to make convenience calls with her husband. She said she started riding in the tow truck before they got married. Robinette happily remembers that Mr. Robinette also took her for rides on his motorbike. She says she heard about Mr. Robinette from a friend and met him in her garage.
After a year of dating, the two got married. Unfortunately, their son Keith Robinette died at birth, but the Robinettes have not given up on having a child. Their son Randy Robinette was adopted in 1959 as a baby. The Robinettes liked to settle in Cannonsburg, but unfortunately things weren’t so calm there. US 60 was widened to four lanes, uprooting many homes and businesses. It was actually a great time to be a mover, literally.
Some houses and buildings were demolished, many found themselves with a new address. The Robinettes’ house has been moved to Midland Trail Road in Rockdale, just down the road from the back entrance of the new Boyd County Public Library branch. The road soon became a Robinette neighborhood with more Robinette houses moving in.
“It was almost across from Whayne Supply there,” Randy Robinette said of the original location of his mother’s house. “Ed and Clara’s house, he wanted to move out of South Shore, so he went with Tom and Elmer and they bought that house, and moved him there. And then Tom’s house was downstairs, almost across from McDonald’s, but on this side. So he had his house demolished and put it there,” Randy said, of his cousin, uncle and their wives who moved right across the street from his parents’ house. Elmer Robinette’s sisters, Ellen and Amanda Robinette, also lived half a mile up the road.
“And the state police came out and said, ‘Well, Robinette, we’ve opened up two lanes on Route 60, but we’re going to close the other two lanes,'” Randy said, laughing at memories of displaced homes. US 60. Elmer Robinette’s garage that was demolished was near present-day Giovanni in Summit, and reopened a stone’s throw away in the same building with Don Helton Auto Parts.
Guests attending Ms. Robinette’s birthday party are asked to wear face masks, due to the recent spike in COVID cases in northeast Kentucky.