(All photos credit: the Robinson Family)
Doris (Mott) Robinson, wife of legendary Grambling State football coach Eddie Robinson, died Wednesday, Sept. 16 at Louisiana Medical Center in Ruston after a brief illness. She was 96 years old.
The couple was married for 66 years until his death in 2007. During their wedded union, she was the ‘Matriarch of Grambling State Athletics.’ She withstood his long hours on the job, demanding travel schedule and the highs and lows of competition with unwavering loyalty. She opened her heart and home as a compassionate mother to her husband's football players without any reservation.
“She welcomed kids to her home and ended up feeding them. She not only fed the players, but other college kids too,” said her grandson, Eddie Robinson III. “I heard so many stories of how she touched players’ lives just as much as he (Eddie) did. We had family members and non-blood stay with us. A lot of them stayed with us until they graduated. She had a big heart for young people. Players would go to the house all the time. If they had any trouble, and needed to see coach, she would always get up and cook for them. She was a motherly figure for the players. That was just her Louisiana style of love.”
During the early years of his career at Grambling State, which was formerly the Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute,, coach Robinson not only ran the football team, but he also coached basketball, baseball and track. His role with the team went beyond the playbook as he lined the field and performed several administrative duties; jobs which are now handled by the team managers, sports information department, compliance office and others.
Throughout his 56 years of service, from the days of segregation all the way up to the lean seasons when the program fell upon hard times near the end of his career, Doris remained faithful as his chief support system. Sometimes, the couple watched game film together to maximize their quality time.
Robinson retired in 1997 as college football’s all-time leader in wins with 408 victories. His mark was later surpassed by Florida State’s Bobby Bowden.
“Mrs. Robinson was truly an iconic figure and fixture among those affiliated with GSU athletics,” said interim athletic director Dr. Obadiah Simmons. “In addition to attending all of the G-men’s football games, Mrs. Robinson’s presence at ‘all’ athletic events involving GSU was anticipated, expected and counted upon by the Grambling family. Mrs. Robinson had a certain aura about her that was accentuated by a very charming personality that she exhibited throughout her lifetime.”
Doris Mott was born on May 2, 1919 to John and Lillian Mott in Baton Rouge, La. After receiving her diploma from McKinley High School in Baton Rouge, she attended Southern University from 1936 to 1938. She later graduated from Leland College in 1941.
Her employment history includes working as a teacher in Lincoln Parish at Fellowship Elementary School and Lincoln Elementary School. She later taught at Lincoln High School, Dubach High School and Rustin High School.
Robinson’s love for education also carried over to her teaching English, history and coaching students in speech for the Louisiana State Literary Competition. Along with her teaching duties, she also was a member of the National Education Association and Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Eddie and Doris tied the knot on June 24, 1941. Their marriage produced two children, Lillian Rose and Eddie Jr. (previously deceased), five grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild.
There will be a viewing for her at New Rocky Valley Baptist Church in Grambling on Thursday, Sept. 24 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Her homegoing celebration takes place later at 2 p.m. at the T.H. Harris Auditorium on the campus of Grambling State University. Mrs. Robinson will be laid to rest at Grambling Memorial Gardens beside her husband. The repast will be held at the Eddie G. Robinson Museum following the burial service.
“Doris Mott Robinson lived a wonderful life, loving not only her family, but also loving and touching the lives of everyone she encountered,” said Eddie III. “During her final days with us, those days afforded her a happy peaceful sleep that blossomed into a happy passing. Life is but a precious gift of God, and the Eddie Robinson family embraces that our Father wanted her back.”
Grambling State was on the road this past weekend, playing at Alabama State in Montgomery. The Tigers honored the late Doris Robinson with a convincing 34-10 over their SWAC foe.