Former Hampton Beach mover and shaker dies

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Wally Robinson recalled as 'life of the party'

By Patrick Cronin -- 1923 - December 30, 2011

Hampton Union, January 31, 2012

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

HAMPTON -- One sentence. Those were all the words used to summarize the colorful life of Wally Robinson in the obituary that appeared in the Sun-Sentinel, a newspaper in Florida. But for those who knew Robinson, his life can't be summed up in one sentence.

The former Hampton Beach businessman died on Dec. 30 at the age 88. He had a zest for life and was one of the movers and shakers in the real estate world at the beach from 1950 to 1990, his friends said.

He was also the one who brought the all pink Pinky Villa hotel — now the Emerald Isle Motel — to Winnacunnet Road, a move that did not go over well with some in town back in the day.

"A lot of people did not like it, to say the least," Al Casassa said. "He was one of the unforgettable characters that I have met at Hampton Beach over the years. Wally was very well known, sometimes controversial. He had his friends, and he had his enemies."

Robinson ran Bridge Real Estate and Market next to what is now Stacy Jane's for a number of years. He later ran the Famous Door Restaurant and Famous Door Reality on Ocean Boulevard, which were torn down, and the location is now the home of condominiums.

"He was a big proponent of the beach, and a lot of people still around today own property by buying it from Wally," said Shirley Doheny, Robinson's step-daughter.

Robinson, who had three children from a previous marriage, married Doheny's mother in 1960. The couple divorced in 1990.

"I can remember he would always say no matter what the place he was showing at the beach that it was 'cute as a button,'" said Doheny. "Every place at Hampton Beach was 'cute as a button' even if it wasn't. He could say it with a straight face and mean it."

Friends described Robinson as larger than life. He was a tall, heavy-set man with a sense of humor to match his stature, they said.

Casassa recalled any time there was a major function at the beach, Robinson would act as the master of ceremonies.

"He was a kind of a showman," Casassa said.

"He could make a story that wasn't all that funny, funny just by the way he told it," Doheny said.

Robert Houle said Robinson was always the life of the party.

But there was also another side.

Like everyone, Wally had his demons and his friends said alcohol was one of them.

But Wally, he said, had a big heart, even lending Houle his Lincoln for the summer.

"He was always willing to help people who seemed to need it," Doheny said. "I just remember if someone needed something, he quietly did it. He was not into the whole big song or dance."

Doheny said Robinson loved to cook, and she said he took pride in making the grinders sold at his market. She also recalled him chasing a woman who stole a watermelon from the store.

"I don't know if he caught her, but he chased her across the bridge," Doheny said.

Casassa said Robinson's legacy is that he moved a lot of real estate at the beach.

"Wally had a lot to do with selling real estate at the south end of the beach, like the M Street area," Casassa said. "He was one of the pioneers of talking people into buying a cottage on M Street to winterize it. Wally was very active is promoting winter rentals. He changed the beach from seasonal to year-round."

Doheny said Robinson moved to Florida in 1990, remarried and only returned to Hampton Beach once. But she said she kept in touch with Robinson, who sent her a video three years ago of him being the master of ceremonies in a Vaudeville act the elderly home where he resided.

"He was still the life of the party, doing what he loved to do," Doheny said.

Houle said it broke his heart when he read the one-sentence obituary.

"It didn't seem right," he said.

Wally Robinson was a well-known real estate agent
in Hampton Beach for many years.
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