Arlene Robins

Obituary of Arlene Robins

Arlene Augusta Steinunn Robins (nee Johnson), of Rivers, MB passed away with family by her side in Minnedosa, MB on June 18, 2024 after a prolonged illness.

Arlene was born on January 21, 1937 in Riverton, MB to Einar and Cappitola Johnson.  Arlene spent her early years growing up on Akri, the family farm near Riverton by the shores of the Icelandic River along with her six siblings.  Her grandparents, who had emigrated from Iceland to the “New Iceland” in the Manitoba Interlake lived alongside on the adjacent property.  Although the family moved into the town of Riverton when Arlene was in her early years of school she had many, many fond experiences of life along the river and on the farm and always shared stories of her early memories from that time to her friends and family.  Icelandic was the only language spoken at home so Mom and her siblings often conversed in their heritage language throughout their lives and she endeavoured to teach sayings and words of affection to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren or anyone else who would listen.  Arlene was very proud of her Icelandic heritage.  Everyone dear to her was often referred to by their Icelandic nickname.  Toasts were always concluded in Icelandic (Skaal) and she was famous for her skill in cooking and baking a myriad of Icelandic dishes.  Although mostly well-known for her delicious vinarterta (layered prune cake) which was served constantly to guests and taken to gatherings near and far, Amma always had a large supply of kleinur (doughnuts), mysuostur (spread), and ponnukokur (rolled pancakes) stored away in the freezer to be ready when needed.  Work bees to make rullupylsa (rolled and cured lamb shoulder) were fond memories in the Robins’ household, fueled by coffee made in traditional Icelandic manner.  Frequent trips to the Interlake always resulted in coming home with a good supply of lutefisk (dried whitefish) until time for the next visit.  Family was important to the Johnson’s and their relatives and Arlene’s children have many, many fond memories of gatherings in the Interlake over the years, playing with the cousins and watching the banter between the Johnson siblings and Afi Einar.  The Robins’ home also played frequent host to many family and friends over the years, including numerous holiday get-togethers, planned celebrations, unannounced visits, and family stopping in from afar to either visit or stay for a few days.  Arlene and Brian’s 25th wedding anniversary was held at the farm and was a very joyous occasion with many friends and family in attendance.  Mom was also the go-to babysitter for so many children of neighbours and friends and was often seen drawing on her teacher’s skills to help them along on their learning journey.  It was a busy household to be sure. 

Upon completion of grade school, Arlene attended Normal School in Winnipeg to obtain a teaching certificate.  Her first full time teaching position was at Bernice School, a one-room schoolhouse near Lauder, MB with some of her students not much younger than she.  That schoolhouse still stands today.  Arlene made some great connections in that first year of teaching, some as students she kept in touch with over the years and a couple who eventually became the Best Man and Maid-of-Honour at her wedding.  The posting that changed her life forever was when Arlene started teaching Grade 3 at the Rivers Elementary School in 1962.  It was in Rivers, at the curling rink that first winter, where Mom met the love of her life, Brian Robins, a local farmer.  They were married July 25, 1964 with Clayton being born in 1967, Kim in 1969, and Kyle in 1970.  Curling was always a big part of the Robins’ life, with Mom and her team from Rivers Elementary School winning the provincial silver medal at a Manitoba Teacher’s Bonspiel in the 1970’s.  Mom was very proud of that accomplishment and the prize of cross-country skis is still in the house where she and Brian raised their family. 

Arlene continued teaching until 1985 and then supported Brian and eventually Brian and Clayton in running the family farm until her deteriorating health required her to reside under full time care.  Mom spent a number of years in and out of hospital care and eventually moved into the Minnedosa Personal Care Home, where she lived for several years and passed peacefully with family at her side.  Through it all she received exceptional care and compassion from everyone involved in her caregiving, to the deepest of gratitude from her family. 

Arlene leaves behind children Clayton (Rebecca) Robins, Kim Brown-Livingston, and Kyle (Maya) Robins.    She was a devoted Amma, great-Amma and frequent babysitter to Robyn (Dave) Reimer and their children Landon and Blake, Sarah Brown, Quinn Robins, Zane (Bailey Caruk), Emma (Chris Tokarchuk)  and Kieran (Abby Benson) Livingston, and Noah, Hannah, Joshua, and Benjamin Robins.  Arlene is survived by her siblings Leonard Johnson, Melvin and Angela Johnson, Barb (Cliff) Johnson, and Donald and Fran Johnson. Arlene is also survived by in-laws Betty (Jack) Antoniak, Keith and Marlene Robins, and Sharon and Ron Basaraba.  She was predeceased by her husband Brian Leslie, parents Einar and Cappitola, brother Laurence and Edie Johnson, sister Elma and Charlie Cheyne, brother Cliff Johnson and sister-in-law Margaret (Leonard) Johnson as well as brother-in-law Jack Antoniak, sister-in-law Reta and Al Chalmers and granddaughter Joy Robins. 

A Celebration of Arlene’s life will be held at Brockie Donovan Funeral Home, 332 8th Street, Brandon, on Saturday, July 20, 2024 at 2:00 p.m. followed by a time for fellowship and reflection.  A family interment will be held at Rivers Cemetery later that day. 

Honourary pallbearers are all her beloved grandchildren, great-grandchildren and her many, many nieces and nephews who meant so much to her. 

Donations in Arlene’s memory may be made to the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

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Celebration of Life

2:00 pm
Saturday, July 20, 2024
Brockie Donovan Chapel
332-8th Street
Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
(204) 727-0694
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