Sunday, February 24, 2013

Remembering Robin

Robin Hathaway at Partners and Crime Booksellers,
April 8, 2008. Photo by Margaret Mendel

Robin and I weren't "girl-friends". We were fellow warriors, in similar but different foxholes.

She followed her star, I followed mine, but we were able to trade strengths where needed.

Our stars were different, but compatible.

We recognized each other's toughness, and though our personal paths were different, we sensed we both fought many of the same wars.

Early on, I championed her doctor books in my reviews for Marilyn Henderson's LADY M.

I could always count on Robin to deliver the goods.

I believe she knew I'd deliver for her too.

On my first trembling initiation seat as a member of the MWA-NY Board, Robin was there to welcome me.

I returned the favor with my positive reviews of her books.

She was always a generous, willing mentor to the Mentor Committee. If we needed another volunteer, Robin was always there for us!

To show her my gratitude, I concocted a fancy dummy prize for the Deadly Ink DAVID prize and gave her a little party at Juliano's to showcase the strange huge creation in public, having invited another Smith English Major to show the flag to please her!

Always ready to help, Robin joined Marge Mendel and me in preparing food for our mutual friend, Bob Knightly, for his book party at my place and the table was laden with food for an army!

A fellow animal lover, Robin often had us in stitches with stories about the wild life on her place on the Jersey Shore. I can still see the ducks and cats following her!

Sophisticated, highly-educated, Robin was always a plain, simple person, a lady, but never haughty or mean, a worker, but never domineering, a fiercely strong soul, but outwardly gentle.

Not long ago, we lunched at the Lex on Lexington East 91st Street, where she interviewed me about what I'd seen as a kid in WW2, for her current WIP. She took careful notes on the Nazi boxes I'd found on the Norfolk beach, the boyish German soldiers, ferried and bound on the Norfolk Naval Base, the blackout curtains tacked up over our windows at night on Chesapeake Bay.

I knew this was a hard book to write, even for her.

Robin, I hope you completed it, but, if you didn't, I hope you'll finish it from way up there, where I know you'll have tons of time now to create your lovely stories…

We'll miss you, but I believe firmly that good people on planet Earth have a good time in Eternity!

God bless, and thank you for your gifts while you made this brief stop down here on our little planet…

Thelma Jacqueline Straw

I met Robin Hathaway at the Mentor Program MWA put on at the Mystery Library on E. 47th St. years ago. She was on the dais as Poster Girl for the MWA Mentor Program, having had her novel, The Doctor Digs A Grave, bought by St. Martin’s as the Best First in the Contest. She always gave the credit to Eleanor Hyde, her Mentor, who stayed around and saw her through to publication. (Eleanor was always a very fine writer and generous friend.) Two of a kind.

But I remember Robin most from our infrequent face-to-face meetings in recent years. In 2011, I was invited to be on a mystery authors panel at the Mid-Atlantic Cultural Something-or-other Convention being held at a hotel in Philadelphia, Robin’s home town. My head turned by the high-sounding invitation, I mentioned it to Robin who offered me a bed in her home for the duration of my stay. I met her impressive, gracious husband, Dr. Bob Keisman.

As things panned out, the mystery authors made their excuses except for me so I was paired with three PhD adjunct Community College English teachers who all spoke on the potboiler novels of Mary Shelley. Well, actually they read their ‘papers’ to the audience of nine in a hotel room the size of a ‘studio’ with a hotplate in an SRO. Robin was there and taking notes (I swear). I’ll always remember that.

Bob Knightly

Click here to see Robin's obituary on


  1. Great tribute to a Grand Lady!!! It will take a while, maybe years, for me to stop looking for her smily, friendly face in a crowd of mystery writers!!! And I have to stop myself from emailing Robin to tell her about all the wonderful things people are saying about her.

  2. There have been posts and comments all over the groups and on various blogs about the warm, generous and funny woman we all knew but I thought this was the best place to leave a comment. Marco Conelli reminded me that one of the first times either of us spent a good amount of time with Robin was at ALA when it was held in Philly in 2008. Twenty-five MWANY members spent the whole day together handing out bloody Marys (and virgin Marys...Liz Zelvin was there!)to some very grateful librarians and ended up at Cordelia Biddle's home for a wonderful dinner and a chance to get to know each other better. Our next Philly gig was a rainy Philadelphia Book Festival and Robin played hostess. By that time I knew Robin from being on the MWANY board together. I always enjoyed sitting with her at meetings because I knew the conversation would be lively and interesting. And we'd always have some laughs. I will miss her good nature and generous spirit.

  3. A lovely tribute to a lovely lady. Robin will be greatly missed, and I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to get to know her better. Our conversations were of the brief "Hello, how are you" sort, but I always looked forward to seeing her.