Obituary – Robbie Ann McPherson
Beloved friend, mother, grandmother and wife, Robbie Ann McPherson died peacefully in her sleep at her South Lake Tahoe home on April 15, 2004. She was 51.
Born in Okinawa, Japan, on Jan. 5, 1953, Robbie came into the world in the same way she left it: seeing to it that those around her were having as much fun as she was having.
Friends and family will honor Robbie in celebration on Tuesday, 6 p.m. at 2480 Palmira Ave., in South Lake Tahoe, the home of Rhea Dira. (Call (530) 318-1541 for directions.) Plans to create a scholarship fund are in the making and will be announced at a later date.
Robbie was raised in the Bay Area, a graduate of Kennedy High School in Richmond, Calif., and Heald Business College. She spent her career in the administration field for Viking Labs, a software firm in Silicon Valley and Sacramento.
Throughout her personal and professional life, she touched many people, even under adverse conditions. Friends point to one particular man who worked at her company’s shipping department whom most employees didn’t speak with because of his gruff demeanor.
Her colleagues warned her the man would bark at her when he was approached, especially if an order ran late. In true and patient fashion, Robbie would make it a daily habit to talk to the man – not about work – but about what he liked to do when he wasn’t working. The two become tried and true friends.
Sometimes you just have to get beyond the exterior to see the real person, she would say.
Holidays were spent with family and friends, and for as far back as anyone can remember, she would open her doors to those who didn’t have family, including troubled teenagers and homeless men and women.
Cooking was her hobby, always trying something new, inviting friends over to her home whether to dine on her ethnic gourmet specialties – which usually involved shrimp, fish, beef and rice or traditional soul food cooking like fried chicken, gumbo and greens. While she would make magnificent meals, she rarely ate them herself; her joy was to watch other people eat and enjoy her food.
Traveling was in her repertoire; Hawaii was her favorite place, but she would just as soon get in the car and travel across the country on a whim, traveling on backroads and stopping in small towns along the way, sampling foods, angling for native fish and wanting to meet and connect with the town’s people.
Her sense of humor was always in check. She had a way of letting people believe she was somewhat naïve, but she would always have the last laugh with dry comebacks that would floor everyone in the room.
Her trademark saying when she was being put on was, “Get out of town.”
Since her late teens, Robbie had been coming to Lake Tahoe. The lake, Robbie said, is a place where she would come to when something in her life wasn’t quite right and she couldn’t find answers.
Weekend trips from the Bay Area or Sacramento to the lake happened at least once a year. Whether it was a walk through the snow, on the sand or through Bill’s Casino, where she would play nickel slots, Robbie always left Lake Tahoe with the answers.
She came to reside in Lake Tahoe permanently in 2000 and was diagnosed with cancer a year later. In November, Robbie married Reginald McPherson, whom she met 27 years before in Berkeley. The two went their own way in 1972, but have a daughter, Erica, who now lives in South Lake Tahoe.
In her final years of life, Robbie’s wishes of having her family together and spending time with them came true. She fancied nickel slot machines, somehow managing to take home big wins. When her wins became consecutive week after week, her husband and daughter would playfully encourage her to try higher-stakes slots. She would decline, saying “I’m having a good time where I’m at, thank you very much.”
She is survived by husband Reginald; daughter Erica Buserwini; grandson Anthony; son-in-law Gary Buserwini of Santa Clara; and stepdaughter Kali McPherson and stepson Biko McPherson, both of North Carolina.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Lamar and Bernice Walker of Richmond, Calif.
– Jeff Munson