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Celebration of Life

Norfolk Collegiate
Saturday February 18th, 2023
1:00pm - 3:00pm

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Patricia "Dean" Robertson

Patricia “Dean” Robertson, 76, died late Thursday, January 12, 2023. Dean, as she was known to everyone, was born in Montgomery, Alabama on February 18, 1946, the only child of William Earle Robertson and Garner Gentry Robertson. Dean grew up in Cedartown, Georgia, the hometown of her father and would reference the formative influence of that time often. Dean would say that she grew up on 200 acres of North Georgia woods, and ended up retiring to a 1928 small city co-op.

Dean led a life worthy of one of the books she wrote. After graduating in 1977 from the University of California at Davis with a Master’s degree in English Literature, Dean spent the rest of her life following a career of teaching in some form or another. Dean began her career as a literature teacher at St. Francis High School in Louisville, Kentucky, where she spent a decade and formed the foundation for her later career and personal pursuits. It was at St. Francis that she first developed the “Hebrew Bible as Literature” course, which began her lifelong relationship with the “Bible as literature.” It was also where she created The Social and Personal Essay course, a precursor to her many years of writing and editing. Dean then moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan where she worked at Aquinas College teaching literature, as well as helping to lead the Writing Center. Dean later moved to Richmond, Virginia in 2000 to be closer to her son and to work as a teacher of English and American literature at the Richmond Collegiate School. Finally, in 2006 Dean moved to Hampton Roads to begin the final chapter of her life as an author, editor and, most importantly, a grandmother to Vaughn, beginning in 2015. It was in Hampton Roads that Dean began writing books on a regular basis including “Looking for Lydia; Looking for God” in 2015, a story which brought together her time recuperating at the Lydia Roper Home with her lifelong interest in the Bible as literature.

Dean purposefully led a life in pursuit of new experiences and new friendships. She kept bees, raised llamas, built a sweat lodge and attended yoga retreats in the mountains of New Mexico, all while being an earnest and dedicated teacher. According to Dean she then “cut off my schoolteacher’s bun and headed to the Tidewater region of Virginia.” As part of her retirement Dean came to the realization that she was “passionate about writing. I am even passionate about editing.” Dean would often say that she wrote every day. While in Norfolk she began a blog called “Dean Speaks Out” and rightly stated that “anyone who knows me will laugh…when did she not?” Frank and passionate about language, it would surprise no one to hear her declare that “I have an almost visceral reaction against poorly constructed sentences, weak word choice, and the blatant overuse of devices like similes!” When not writing or editing the work of others, Dean was also a voracious reader of almost any type of writing, declaring that she would “wallow in language; I want to wallow when I read.”

Another incredibly important part of Dean’s life was her nearly thirty-five-year connection to Alcoholics Anonymous. Through AA Dean gathered a wonderful collection of good friends and helped countless people. From her time working at the local prison in Michigan, to her commitment to online meetings during the pandemic, to her dedication to continue to sponsor those in need until her last day, AA was a constant and intrinsic feature of her life.

To best sum up Dean would be a descriptor she gave herself later in life: “Retired teacher, liberal, rabble rouser in a good cause.”

Finally, one cannot not speak of Dean without also mentioning her long term companion, Issac the cat. Issac was with Dean from soon after her arrival in Hampton Roads until a little more than a year before she died. A cat person for her entire life, Issac was incredibly important to Dean and she never fully recovered from that loss.

As well as many cousins and their families, with whom she had wonderful relationships all her life, Dean is survived by her only son, Marcus Pollard, his wife, Paige, as well as her beloved grandson, Vaughn.

A celebration of Dean’s life will occur on her birthday, Saturday February 18th, at the Norfolk Collegiate upper school Hackney Theater from 1-3 pm at 7336 Granby Street, Norfolk, VA, 23505. R.W. Baker & Company Funeral Home & Crematory, Downtown Suffolk is serving the family. Online condolences may be made at RWBakerFH.com.

Dean was involved with and supportive of the homeless population in her neighborhood. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Union Mission Ministries: https://www.unionmissionministries.org/ways-to-give/


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Guestbook

I've enjoyed getting to know Dean over the past few years. She will be truly missed.

Mark Slauter Jan 27 2023 11:14 AM

My dear Dean. I will miss you my friend. God blessed us with our friendship. Till we meet again. Much love.

Kasey Brady Jan 24 2023 1:56 PM

Dean was a very special person and I am grateful to have known and loved her for over 16 years here in the Tidewater area.

Ellen Bunton Jan 20 2023 9:18 PM

I have such fond memories of Dean from our SFHS days in Louisville in the 1980s. May her spirit reside in everyone who knew, loved, and admired her, and of course, in her writing.

Dawn Klus Jan 20 2023 3:09 PM