Cover photo for Lorraine Matilda Robb's Obituary
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1922 Lorraine 2020

Lorraine Matilda Robb

August 8, 1922 — July 17, 2020

Lorraine Matilda Robb, 97, passed away peacefully on July 17, 2020 after what she often described as “a good life.”

The second of eight children, she was born Lorraine Steinfeldt on August 8, 1922. Her family lived on Reid Street in DePere, where her father, Andrew, worked for the Dan Kidney Boat Company. Lorraine adored her dad and spoke often of his love of fishing and the wonderful meals they’d prepare from the fish he brought home.

In her teen years Lorraine lived with her aunt and uncle on the west side of Green Bay where she attended West High School. Although she didn’t graduate with her class she eventually earned her GED and had a lifelong love of learning.

In the early 1940s Lorraine met John Robb on the steps of the old county library on Jefferson Street in downtown Green Bay. Romance blossomed and the couple married in 1946. Early in their marriage they lived in Madison, where John was pursuing a Masters degree in English at the University of Wisconsin. They had an eclectic circle of friends there, most of whom were also working towards advanced degrees, and Lorraine, never content to be a mere listener, participated avidly in their discussions of literature, politics, and world affairs.

Lorraine was a voracious reader who often said “I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t read.” The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, Vogue magazine, and the works of Oscar Wilde ranked especially high in her affections. Handwriting analysis was a favorite hobby; she took great delight in analyzing a sample of handwriting and finding that she’d described the writer’s personality to the proverbial “T.”

After John had completed his studies, the couple returned to Green Bay. For a number of years they lived on West Mason Street, near the present-day Notre Dame Academy; the area was still largely undeveloped in those days, and Lorraine always referred to this period as “when we lived in the country.” Several cedar trees they planted still stand on the property. Lorraine’s son John and daughter Joan were born then, but by the time her third child, Judy, came along the Robbs were living on Green Bay’s east side. There Lorraine raised her children and helped her husband operate his small bread bakery.

Still, they found time to enjoy an active social life. They played bridge, belonged to a dance club that met at the Northland Hotel, and went out for dinner every Saturday night. The Stratosphere, a legendary Green Bay supper club, was a particular favorite. Every Sunday, in turn, John’s parents, Dr. James J. and Justina Robb, would come to their house for a traditional “Sunday” dinner—a dinner Lorraine was expected to prepare, needless to say.

Lorraine had a wonderful fashion sense and took great pride in her appearance. She loved to shop for clothes at Smart Fashions in the Northern Building, and a visit to her hairdresser, Debbie Jean, was a highlight of her week for more than 40 years.

A trip somewhere “Up North” was a fixture on the family’s summer calendar. John loved to camp; Lorraine, not so much. “We’re the happies,” Lorraine would tartly observe as, their car bursting at the seams with kids, food, and camping gear, they set forth on another adventure. They eventually transitioned from camping to renting a cottage in Ephraim, an option Lorraine found far more civilized.

In 1974 John suffered a brain trauma from which no meaningful recovery was possible. He required full-time care for the rest of his life and at the time of his death in 1978 was a resident of the VA home in Tomah, WI. Lorraine sold the house in Green Bay and she and Judy, who was still in high school at the time, moved to a home in Allouez. In her mid-50s Lorraine found herself in the position of having to join the workforce and over the years she held a variety of jobs, all of which she embraced with her characteristic energy, enthusiasm, and good humor. She recalled her time working at MJ Knowles Ltd., an upscale gift and home décor shop in DePere, with particular fondness, also the wonderful, laughter-filled friendships she developed there with Mary Joyce and Barb Mohr.

Lorraine had known her share of sadness but it never darkened her outlook. She was unfailingly cheerful and upbeat; one of her favorite sayings was “I’ll take the day.” You always felt a little better after being around Lorraine. She was empathetic and very funny, and while her wit could be biting it was never mean-spirited. She loved a lively party, mixed a terrific drink, and was a legendary cook. Everything that came out of her kitchen was delicious but as a baker of pies she was untouchable. You could put the same ingredients and the same tools in the hands of a roomful of bakers and none of them could make a crust half as good.

Lorraine suffered from dementia for nearly a decade and it was unimaginably difficult to watch this woman who’d been so vivacious and engaged fade, little by little, into the fog. Her family would like to thank all who provided care for her over the years, especially Lynn, Chris, Kim, and Sheila and also the staff at Caraton Commons in DePere, where Lorraine had lived since the summer of 2017. Dede at Caraton Commons was especially kind and helpful.

Lorraine is survived by her children John (Diane), Green Bay; Joan (Tom Davis) Robb, Allouez; and Judy (Billy Stapel) Robb, Black Earth; five grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren. In addition to her husband, a great-grandson, Kirk Robb, preceded her in death.

Lorraine left explicit instructions that no funeral or memorial service of any kind be held. She hoped, instead, that those who knew her might simply raise a glass to celebrate her life. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers or other expressions of sympathy a gift to the Literary Council of Green Bay, where Lorraine served as a volunteer teaching reading to adults, would be a fitting way to honor her memory.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Lorraine Matilda Robb, please visit our flower store.

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