Frances Robinson; Newport Environmentalist


Frances Robinson, a tireless member of the Upper Newport Bay environmental movement, died Saturday in her Newport Beach home of congestive heart failure. She was 82.

Robinson was born in Los Angeles, graduated from Fremont High School and attended L.A. City College and UC Berkeley.

When she lived in the San Gabriel Valley, she served as president of the La Canada Child Guidance Clinic and the San Gabriel Valley Child Guidance Clinic.

She and her husband of 59 years, Frank, moved to Newport Beach in 1962. The couple fought to preserve the natural beauty of Upper Newport Bay, and largely through their efforts, the area known as the Back Bay is now a state ecological preserve. The main exhibit at the bay's Interpretive Center is named after the Robinsons.

In 1998, a massive dredging project got underway that removed silt from the Back Bay's waterways, a critical element in the health of the bay's estuary.

Robinson received numerous national, state and local awards for her work in preserving the environment, including awards from the Audubon Society and American Motors, and was granted an honorary lifetime membership in the Sierra Club.

Robinson was an enthusiastic swimmer and tennis player and loved to ski on snow and water. She was an avid traveler and visited the Galapagos Islands, where she swam with seals. She also created and tended a showcase garden at their home, her husband said.

She is survived by her husband; a daughter, Dana; a son, Jay; two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will begin at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the Upper Newport Bay Interpretive Center, 2301 N. University Drive, Newport Beach.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in her name to the Upper Newport Bay Naturalists and Friends at P.O. Box 2001, Newport Beach, CA 92659.

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