I usually like to round out the year with happy thoughts of all the wonderful things that happened during it. To keep this broad topic under control I limit it to all the great things that happened in bridal. Here is where I would usually talk about sleeve options and modern laces and mixing and matching bridesmaid gowns. But this year and this time things are different.
It is hard to think about the events of this year without thinking about our Betsy Robinson family. Like a real family it has gained and lost. We have watched members leave to pursue other career paths, and we welcomed new ones. We jumped and cheered at the announcements of babies (my own!) and engagements and major milestones. We got to say hello to so many new brides as they said “yes!”
But we also had to say the hardest goodbye to our patriarch of sorts, Allen Robinson. It is a loss that is deeply felt by all of us and a presence that is daily missed. Which is why it seems fitting to re post what I had originally published about Mr. Betsy. I put it here as a reminder of him personally and a chance of reflection for us all. Here is wishing you a 2018 that has more ups than downs and is filled with lots and lots of love.
If you were to frequent our salon on a typical bustling weekend afternoon you would find it full of happy brides, of boisterous groups of bridesmaids debating between shades of blush, and dozens of proud mothers and soon to be mothers-in-law waiting patiently for the gown. You would find a swirl of commotion as consultants hurried back and forth with gowns draped over their shoulders and veils trailing behind.
But amidst all the hubbub you would likely find an older gentleman in black turtleneck and signature sport coat surveying the scene from his post next to the front desk. Quietly he would watch over the bright lobby taking care that all was well in the little kingdom he helped build. When he would introduce himself to passing groups he would point to the golden Betsy Robinson’s logo on the wall and say light-heartedly that he was “Mr. Betsy.” Today’s post is a special dedication to him as I sadly inform you that over the weekend he passed away and will no longer be our beacon in a sport coat at the front of the salon.
Known among us as Mr. Betsy or Mr. Allen or even as Big Pops, Allen Robinson was a constant fixture at the salon. Together with his wife, Betsy Robinson, he helped to build the salon into the name and place that it is today. The couple were married in 1972 and with the help of Allen’s business prowess his family department store was transformed over the years into Robinson’s Bridal and Formal and finally into Betsy Robinson’s Bridal Collection. It has grown into one of the most trusted names in bridal in the entire region.
Allen was active not only at the bridal shop where he could always be called upon to fetch a gown, but he was also active in the community. He helped to found the Summit School for dyslexic children in the Annapolis area, served as its Chairman of the Board for eight years, and continued to serve as an active board member. He was also on the board of the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital and served on boards for the Alzheimer’s Associations of Maryland and the Red Cross.
He was a spirited talker and a force to be reckoned with. He was a shrewd and studied businessman who delighted in going over the salon’s numbers each day, but his heart was unexpectedly big and kind. It was because of him, because of the example that he set and the kindness that he showed to all who worked here and all who came here that we have come think of ourselves as a family. It would be easy to assume he was a man who cared about the bottom line, because he sure did love the bottom line, but knowing him it’s even easier to see him as someone who cared about so much more.
He took an interest in us, in every member of the Betsy Robinson’s team. He and Betsy invited us into their home on numerous occasions. He met many of our family members and was always quick to strike up a conversation. He took great interest in our brides and in their families. He left an indelible mark on those he met, on those who worked for him, on those in his community and on so many people in the bridal world.
He leaves behind his family of Betsy, their two daughters, a son-in-law and three grandchildren, but he also leaves behind a legacy and a legend. He will remain as much a fabric of the salon as the organza and lace gowns that hang in it. We take pride in working hard and doing our very best for our brides, but make no mistake, we do it for “Mr. Betsy” too.