Robbie Ellen Pennell was born April 20, 1939 to Wiley Orval Pennell and Lotta Lane Pennell. At the tender age of 17 years she married her life long partner, William W. Jenkins. To this union were born two sons, B. Joe Jenkins and Danny T. Jenkins. While their children were very young, Robbie was diagnosed with cancer. Not knowing the prognosis of her condition, she lived one day at a time and tried to put a lifetime of love and stability into her family. As her health improved she decided she wanted to help others so she enrolled in nurses’ training in Springfield, Illinois. She took her training at St. John’s and Memorial hospitals. She graduated in 1969 and spent the remainder of her working career caring for the elderly.
While working at a private nursing home in Nokomis, Illinois in 1973, Robbie, along with a coworker, arranged to start Sunday morning services at the nursing home. Different ministers participated in the services. Today, church serv- ices are still going on in that home.
Several years ago Robbie, along with her coworker, were honored at the Golden Manor Nursing Home for the work they had done toward getting the services started.
Robbie attended Blackburn College and became an EMT and spent many hours volunteering with the Springfield ambulance service. During that time she assisted with a plane crash which had no survivors. She was a CPR instructor, First Aid and Advance First Aid instructor. She was a volunteer for the American Red Cross. She also did volunteer work for ESDA. During the time her son Joe was coordinator for ESDA, she and Joe started a food pantry for the community and Toys for Tots at Christmas. This proved to be a huge success for the community and helped many people. During her working career she encountered many incidents which she dealt with as they arose. She was in a car accident while attending nurses’ training.
Robbie witnessed a shooting while on duty at her work place. She was held hostage with a knife while on duty. Her life was threatened for months before police were able to find out who was doing the threatening, but this did not keep her from taking care of her family and patients with all the love she had to give. During her working career she worked as Assistant Director of Nursing, Director of Nursing, and Personnel Coordinator. She was sworn in as an Auxiliary Deputy Sheriff in July 1995.
Robbie stated, “I want to be remembered as Robbie Jenkins, the lady who loved her husband, children, grandchildren, and all of her family unconditionally. I want to be remembered as someone who always strived to be a better person than I personally believed I was inside. I want to be remembered as a hard working person who didn’t know how to be lazy. I want to be remembered as someone who was always there for all of her family members whenever they needed me for anything and at any time. I want to be remembered as the lady on Tower Rock road who loved growing flowers and just loved walking through the gardens and sharing them with others. I want to be remembered as the woman who was not afraid to take chances, such as riding her own motorcycle, flying in an ultra light plane, qualifying as an expert with a 38 pistol. I want to be remembered as someone who loved to pull pranks on friends or family. I want to be remembered as one of the world’s greatest moms and mamaws. I want to be remembered for my chocolate pies and chicken and dumplings. I want to be remembered as the lady who always smiled at family, friends, and strangers. I want to be remembered as a person who strangers would come up to in order to start a conversation. I want to be remembered for my poetry and short stories. I want to be remembered for my love of family history. I want to be remembered as a person who would give away her last bite of food to anyone who was hungry. I want to be remembered as someone who fed the animals and the birds. Last of all, I want to be remembered!”
Robbie leaves to mourn: son, Joe and Tammy Jenkins of Elizabethtown; son, Danny Jenkins and Pam Baldwin of Rosiclare; grandson, TJ and Candice Jenkins; granddaughter, Amber and Ryan Frailey; granddaughter, Kenzie Rae Jenkins; grandson, William Taylor Jenkins; great-grandchildren, Bryson and Brynden Jenkins and Rhett Frailey; sister, Shirley Rose of Cave In Rock; sister, Lorene Suits of Eldorado.
Robbie was preceded in death by her husband, William “Bill” Jenkins; parents, Wiley Orval “Stub” Pennell and Lotta Lane; sister, Peggy Jean Lanham; brothers, Glen Weldon Pennell and Paris Edward Pennell.
If tomorrow should start without me, and I’m not there to see,
If the sun should rise and find your eyes all filled with tears for me.
I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today,
While thinking of the many things we didn’t get to say.
I know how much you love me, as much as I love you,
And each time you think of me I know you’ll miss me, too.
But when tomorrow starts without me please try to understand,
That an angel came and called my name and took me by the hand.
And said my place was ready in heaven far above,
And that I had to leave behind all those I dearly love.
But as I turned to walk away a tear fell from my eye,
For all my life I’d always thought I didn’t want to die.
I had so much to live for, so much left yet to do,
It seemed almost impossible that I was leaving you.
I thought of all the yesterdays — the good ones and the bad.
I thought of all the love we shared and all the fun we had.
If I could relive yesterday just even for a while,
I’d say goodbye and kiss you and maybe see you smile.
But then I fully realized that this could never be,
For emptiness and memories would take the place of me.
And when I thought of worldly things I might miss come tomorrow,
I thought of you and when I did, my heart was filled with sorrow.
But when I walked through heaven’s gate I felt so much at home,
When God looked down and smiled at me from his great golden throne.
He said this is eternity and all I’ve promised you,
Today your life on earth is past but here life starts anew.
I promise no tomorrow but today will always last,
And since each day’s the same way, there’s no longing for the past.
You have been so faithful, so trusting and so true,
Though there were times you did some things you knew you shouldn’t do.
But you have been forgiven and now at last you’re free.
So won’t you come and take my hand and share my life with me?
So when tomorrow starts without me don’t think we’re far apart,
For every time you think of me I’m right here in your heart.