Ford Maclaughlin Robbins

RobbinsFord Maclaughlin Robbins, 72, on June 25, 2015, in Santa Fe, N.M. Ford was born on November 20, 1942, in San Pedro, Calif., to Jean Fairman and Orem Robbins and grew up in Minneapolis, Minn. He and his family rode Amtrak when he was a child, and he developed a lifelong interest in trains. He and Margaret Cornelison met as students at Lawrence College in Appleton, Wis., and married in 1966. After his law degree at University of Minnesota Law School, they moved to California, where he practiced diverse military law in the U.S. Air Force. Their daughter Elizabeth was born in California, and daughter Heather was born in Japan while Ford served as United States Claims Commissioner and Negotiator for the Okinawa Reversion Treaty. His visit to ground zero in Hiroshima reinforced his pacifism. Returning to Minnesota, he served the Sierra Club in legal matters, volunteered with homeless services, and provided legal assistance to immigrants.

After retiring, he and Margaret moved to Santa Fe, N.M., where he served as clerk of Santa Fe Meeting’s Ministry and Oversight Committee and as treasurer. His service on the meeting’s Future Planning Committee led in 2009 to attendance at South Santa Fe Quaker Worship Group under the care of Santa Fe Meeting. During his years of dedication to religious education and good order of Friends, Ford led that worship group’s long-range planning and helped it to grow into Quaker House Santa Fe Meeting (Preparative). As treasurer he handled the financial details of purchasing and establishing their meetinghouse, and in his last year of life, he led the process for gathering the history of the worship group.

In Santa Fe he concentrated on photography that focused on the quality of light and beauty in the natural environment. Many private, corporate, and public collections exhibited his photographs, including the New Mexico State Museums, the Albuquerque Museum, and the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos. A book of his photography, Connections: A Visual Journey, was published by Red Mountain Press in 2009. The N.M. Museum of History houses his entire portfolio in the permanent collection of the Palace of the Governors.

One of his last successful acts ensured that the Southwest Chief’s passenger route through New Mexico was secured after closure had been threatened. Friends will miss his kindness, thoughtfulness, and wry humor. He was generous with his time and creativity, responding with compassion. Fascinated by the intersection of his own family’s story of settling in Radcliffe, Iowa, and the Quaker Norwegian diaspora, he wrote about the diaspora in Quaker Sloopers: The Search for Religious Freedom.

As his body weakened with multiple myeloma, he welcomed visitors to his bedside. He and Margaret shared their gratitude for the friends who stopped by and for the lovely view from their living room of the birds and wildlife, summer wildflowers, and changing colors of the sky. Ford’s wife, Margaret Robinson, and his two daughters survive him.

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