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Sylvan Robes

Age 63, of Southport, North Carolina, died Monday, October 18, 2004 at Autumn Care at Myrtle Grove in Wilmington, NC. A Memorial Service is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Saturday, October 23, 2004 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Southport. Inurnment will follow in Sacred Heart Catholic Church Columbarium. Mr Robes was born September 18, 1941 in Detroit, son of Jane Cassard and the late Kibbey Robes and moved to Southport from Detroit in 1997. Mr. Robes retired in 1996 from the Michigan State School System after 31 years of teaching. Once in Southport, he became a parishoner of Sacred Heart Catholic Church where he was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He loved to read, travel and had a true passion for Chess. Survivors include his wife, Antonette Alberga Robes of the home; two daughters, Carmen M. Robes of Chicago, Illinois and Cecile T. Robes of Rockingham, North Carolina; brother Joel Robes of Michigan; sister Joyce Houlahan of Minnesota. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to American Diabetes Association, 1701 N. Beauregard Street, Alexandria, Virginia, 22311, 800-342-2383, www.diabetes.org. Peacock-Newnam Funeral & Cremation Service,

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05/30/09 07:32 AM #1    

Jack N Smith

He was one of my favorite classmates and I enjoyed the time we spent togeather in and out of school.He only had good things to say about his fellow classmated and friends.He will be deeply missed and always will be remembered as a dear friend and classmate.We Miss you. Jack Smith

09/17/09 11:09 AM #2    

Warren Devine

Syl and I became acquainted on the makeshift baseball diamonds of Edison School's playground in the 5th grade. We also played neighborhood football and ice hockey together, served up sweat socks as student managers of Redford's baseball team under Coach Stuckey, and became avid fans of Detroit's professional sports teams. Together we witnessed a number of significant events in Detroit sports history: the first (and shamefully late) appearance of an African American in a Tiger uniform, the Lion's 1957 world championship victory over the Cleveland Browns, and one of the Pistons first games after they moved to Detroit from Fort Wayne. These shared experiences deepened a friendship that was to last for over a half-century.

Syl attended Wayne State University, where he played football briefly, and received his bachelors and masters degrees. We often double-dated when I was home from Ann Arbor. On one of these occasions Syl was a little quieter than usual, we didn't talk sports much, and neither of us borrowed money from the other, as was usually the case. It turned out to be his first date with Antonette Alberga, whom he married a few years later.

Syl and Antonette were teachers--good ones. Antonette spent many years at Mackenzie High teaching languages, and Syl returned to Redford where he taught history and several other subjects. As a student in 1958, Syl had joined Redford's Chess Club. He developed an intense interest in the game that lasted the rest of his life, and earned a number of Master's points. He even studied games of the Russian Grand Masters in Soviet chess magazines. But I think he got the most satisfaction out of teaching chess to his students, and taking the Redford Chess Club team to tournaments around the city.

Antonette and Syl have two daugters: Cecile, now a physician in North Carolina and Carmen, now an accountant in Chicago. The young family loved travel and spent many summers in Europe, especially Italy, Antonette's family home. They also visited my family wherever we lived--California, Oregon, Tennessee; distance didn't seem to affect our friendship. I especially remember being encouraged by Syl the day before two particularly scary occasions in my life--a very important exam, and serious surgery.

As people who have lived in Michigan know better than I, teaching in Detroit's high schools in the 1980s and 1990s was not an easy job. Syl and Antonette were under constant stress, and were even physically assaulted on more than one occasion. Once I asked why he stayed; surely he could get another, safer job, maybe closer to his home. I will never forget his answer: "Someone has to do it; I like the kids." And the kids respected "Mr. Robay," and learned things from him they could not have learned elsewhere. If there is a Detroit Teachers Hall of Fame, Sylvester and Antonette Robes are surely in it.

As working conditions at their schools deteriorated, so did Syl's health. Fortunately he was able to retain his sense of humor, and despite his pain our get-togethers were invariably highlighted by plenty of laughs. Sylvester and Antonette retired from their long teaching careers in 1996 and they later built a beautiful home at St. James Plantation, North Carolina, not far from the ocean. Despite his worsening diabetes and its complications, Syl enjoyed their new surroundings--the warmer climate and the abundant wildlife he frequently called to tell me about. But sadly, in October 2004, Redford High School lost one of its most faithful alumni.

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