Clara Mae Scott Robinson was born on May 27, 1939 in Cumberland, Virginia, the third child
and eldest daughter of the late Lucy James Scott and Elwood Scott.
Clara’s family owned a 13-acre tobacco farm in Cumberland where she was responsible for
fixing the family meals and keeping the house tidy and the clothes clean while the rest of the
children worked on the farm. Perhaps this is where Clara developed her love of cooking and
caring selflessly for others. Clara came from a deeply religious family and often sought prayer.
She grew up in segregated Virginia and attended a small two-room school with 20 kids. Clara
graduated from Luther Jackson High School in Cumberland in 1958 and enrolled in Virginia
State College where she majored in elementary education intending to become a teacher. But
family needs called her away from school and she relocated to Montclair, New Jersey to help
care for her aunt where she resided for the rest of her life.
Clara had a lifelong commitment to education. From 1958 to 2020, Clara attended college and
completed certificate and professional development programs to enhance her educational and
When she first arrived up North, Clara spent time as a mother’s helper – a job she’d also held
as a young girl in Richmond. She spent numerous years working for a family, caring for their
daughter with special needs. She also became a certified home health aide.
While in Montclair, Clara met William H. Robinson Jr., a young veteran whose family lived
across the street from her aunt. They married in September 1967, and though their paths
separated, Clara and William remained friends. Clara’s pride and joy was their son, William III,
to whom she remained devoted for the rest of her life. She was a second mother and trusted
advisor to many of William’s friends, opening her home when they needed respite.
Clara loved to cook and so she pursued a career in food service. In 1968, she began working at
St. Vincent’s Hospital in Montclair, first as a dietary aide, then certified dietitian, food service
supervisor, and ultimately food service manager. After St. Vincent’s closed, she transferred to
St. Joseph’s Hospital in Paterson as an assistant food service manager until her retirement in
But Clara was not one to sit idle. She loved to stay busy and work with people. She enrolled in
the University of Miami certification program, receiving a diploma in hotel restaurant
management. In 1994, she began her tenure at Deron School in Montclair, a private school that
serves children with special needs. She began as teacher assistant and food service
coordinator, retiring in 2020, after 26 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as food service director. No one in Clara’s cafeteria went hungry; she diligently planned meals for the students
and even set aside some extras for those she knew needed extra nourishment. She trained
students to work alongside her in the cafeteria as part of the school’s career education program.
In 2018, she was given the Ruth K. Newman Award for Excellence by the Deron School “in
recognition of her outstanding contribution and dedication in providing educational services to
children with special needs.” She was a beloved teacher and co-worker to many. On the
occasion of her 80th birthday, her friends sent video messages to celebrate her.
While working at Deron, Clara took on a part-time job at luxury retailer Fortunoff in Wayne. She
worked in the fine goods department, gifting customers with her keen knowledge of home goods
and her gentle smile. She often joked to friends and family that she worked there solely for the
discount as a way to support her love of high-end home goods and collectibles. Clara’s
collection of Lladro figurines is quite impressive and she had an assortment of place settings
and matching linens for every family occasion – from Easter and Halloween to Christmas. But it
was the longtime friends she made at Fortunoff that brightened her time there. She retired from
Fortunoff in 2008 after the store closed its doors.
Feeding her family and friends was Clara’s love language. She was happiest in the kitchen,
planning meals and making sure everyone was taken care of. Clara’s homemade macaroni and
cheese was beloved by many and she loved to bake desserts – from cakes to pies (she was
partial to key lime pie). Clara even taught a cooking class at Montclair’s Adult School for many
years, spreading her kitchen know-how to novices.But above all, it was her devotion to family that kept her going until the end. Clara loved her son
William deeply, supporting all his endeavors. She immediately extended her open arms and
heart to his new wife and delighted in her role as a grandma. She served as a part-time
caregiver to granddaughters Taylor Alana and Nina Renée, watching them several days a week,
picking them up from school and driving them to an assortment of activities over the years right
until her untimely passing. She was one of their biggest cheerleaders and a constant presence,
helping with homework, doing hair and preparing nightly dinners. Ever the spoiler, there were
frequent trips to the mall and lots of sweet treats, as grandmas are known for. Theirs was a
special bond that will never be forgotten.
We’ll be forever grateful that we were able to spend one final Mother’s Day with her.
Clara was predeceased by her siblings Willie, Roger and Marilyn.
Clara’s loving presence will be greatly missed by her son William H. Robinson III and his wife,
Christina; her granddaughters Taylor and Nina; her brother Harold; her former husband William
H. Robinson Jr. and his partner Cheryl Woodruff; her cousin Hester Lindsey; and many nieces,
nephews and other relatives and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Clara Robinson’s honor to Toni’s
Kitchen, a nonprofit food ministry in Montclair which helps to end food insecurity.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Clara Mae Scott Robinson, please visit our floral store.
Montclair NJ 07042