by Howard Freedman
Just about every one knows Katie Robbins. If you are a new member of the museum or the club or you have been with us for years, you have seen her at car events and her name is on countless publications. She seems to be handling some task at every significant activity that we sponsor. I got to wonder how many of our members know the full story of Katie Robbins and how she became the omnipresent figure we know today.
Like a lot women Katie was just humoring her husband Jim who loved the full-size Classic cars, especially the ones with fender wells and jump seats. Back in the 1950s Jim could find the cars he loved in used car lots. He would bring them home and then, being an engineer, would start to dismantle them in the garage. Eventually, Katie, who can’t stand clutter, would put the car back together just to keep the garage neat. There is nothing like hands-on experience to develop an understanding of the mechanics and an appreciation of these cars. In 1958 Jim and Katie joined the Classic Car Club of America.
The Club was family friendly which was perfect for the Robbins with their two kids. Meetings were held in members’ back yards, and visiting a collection meant a trip to an old barn full of dusty original Classics. It didn’t take long for Katie’s high energy level and work ethic to be noticed by others. Soon Sam Dibble, one of the founders of the Michigan Region, asked Katie to help with the registration at the Michigan Region Grand Classic. This began her nearly 60 years of involvement with the club and her evolution into the Classic Car Club of America Museum.
Jim started to become more engaged in the club activities and soon became the Director of the Michigan Region. Katie was the “woman behind the man” going to board meetings and learning how the club operated. Katie started to be recognized for all the work she did, holding almost every job that was in the region. With Jim’s encouragement she ran for Director of the Michigan Region. She was elected and became the first female Regional Director.
Soon after that she was asked to run for the National Board, declining until her term as Director of the Michigan Region was over. She was then elected to the National Board and became President of the CCCA in 1982-1983. Because of her experience and knowledge of Classic Cars, they created the position of Executive Administrator of the CCCA, which she still serves in to this day. Perhaps Katie’s husband Jim, with tongue in cheek, best expressed how well-known and critical she had become to the Classic Car Club by always introducing himself as “Mr. Katie Robbins.”
When the Classic Car Club Museum was established around 1983, she became a Trustee. The Museum created the Experience Weekend 27 years ago. Katie was asked to help set up the meet and has been totally immersed in the Museum and the Experience ever since.
There are very few members who can match Katie for dedication and tireless efforts to ensure the Classic Car Club and Classic Car Club Museum’s success.
While I asked Katie’s daughter to give us the foregoing details, I feel very strongly that I need to add my comments about this amazing lady. We always marvel at the Energizer Bunny and we need not look beyond our own Katie to see the hard work, dedication to both the Museum and the Club that no one can ever match. I cannot begin to express my own admiration and appreciation for what Katie has taught me. I consider it my honor to have her direct me along the way.