Driving force behind Libertyville veterans monument remembered as a positive man
Every Memorial Day in Libertyville, a contingent of veterans and loved ones walk from Cook Park to a granite monument in Lakeside Cemetery inscribed with the names of Libertyville Township residents who died serving in the armed forces.
"It certainly is a long-lasting tribute for those who gave their lives for us," Jim Robbins, quartermaster for Libertyville Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 8741, said at the Memorial Day 1999 dedication of the Veterans Memorial Monument.
Robbins, who died Sunday at age 90, is being remembered as one of the driving forces behind making the monument a reality.
"He was boisterous in his support for the military," recalled Ed Kelly, president of the Lakeside Cemetery Association.
Born in town and a 1946 graduate of Libertyville High School, Robbins was a member of the 5th Marine Regiment serving in China and Guam after World War II. He joined Post 8741 in 1950, serving as its commander and 32 years as quartermaster.
For years, he promoted the idea of a veterans memorial in Libertyville. He became part of a contingent of supporters who raised more than $60,000 to establish it on land donated by the cemetery association.
Every year, Robbins would attend the Memorial Day observance, a notebook in hand, to make sure he pronounced each name on the marker correctly.
"That was his baby. He felt it an honor to read all their names," said George R. Gandara, the current Post 8741 commander and a fellow Marine.
Robbins always practiced the belief in the Marine Corps service to others, Gandara added.
Judy Zemeske, a longtime member of the village's Memorial Day committee, said Robbins would talk to Scouts who placed flags at the cemetery the Saturdays before Memorial Day to make their experience more meaningful.
"Jim would always come and talk to the kids about the monument, the memorial, how they did it, why they did it. It was wonderful," she said.
Robbins recruited Gandara to be a post member in 2004, after seeing his Desert Storm hat and life membership Marine designation during a local event. It is that tradition that young Marines emulate, Gandara said.
"Jim was not only my recruiter. He was my mentor and my friend who taught me to be best Marine, citizen and VFW member that I could be to continue serving our community and our nation," he said.
"He was a very positive man," Gandara added. "I learned a lot from him."
Robbins will be laid to rest in his dress blues. Visitation is from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Burnett-Dane Funeral Home Ltd., 120 W. Park Ave. in Libertyville. A funeral service, preceded by one hour of visitation, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the funeral home. Burial with full military honors will follow at Lakeside Cemetery.
Instead of flowers, donations can be made in his name to the Veterans Memorial Monument at Lakeside Cemetery, P.O. Box 500, Libertyville, IL 60048.