Mary Elizabeth Robinson Cole
Mary Elizabeth (known in the family as Til) is the first child of Fred and Era Robinson. She was born August 16, 1922 in St. Petersburg Fla. She was named after both of her grandmothers. Thirteen months later her sister Freddie was born. Because the girls were so close in age, Mary Elizabeth did not start school until her sister was able to go also. They spent their childhood playing and working together. They even slept in the same bed. They grew up with music as an important part of their lives. In second grade they were already singing on the radio as well as for the Sunday school class of the local fire department. At home the whole family loved to gather around the piano and entertain one another.
At Cliffside school Til excelled in art and was often called upon to design and decorate banners and bulletin boards. She loved drawing paper dolls in beautiful dresses. She was also involved in school plays. She and her sister Freddie often entertained their classmates and faculty at chapel programs. Til graduated from Cliffside High School in 1940. The following fall she enrolled at Appalachian State College but only stayed for three weeks. Shortly after returning home she married Robert Moore. Robert’s family lived in Cliffside also and his father Pete was employed at Cliffside Mill. His mother was Lois Bridges Moore. Their daughter Marilyn was born on January 23, 1944. In 1948 they moved to Jacksonville, Fla. Robert and Til divorced in 1951. Mary Elizabeth was employed at Gulf Life Insurance Co. at the time. She was also active at Beaver Street Baptist Church. She taught Sunday School in the children’s department, sang in the choir and was a member of a ladies quartet.
In 1954 she met Tom Beach at Beaver Street. They were married and two boys were born. David Lee was born in 1955 and Mark Daniel in 1957. About 1960 Tom deserted the family and left Mary E. to carry on alone. At this time God provided her a new job as a secretary at Snyder Brokerage Co. It provided a much better salary.
It was around this time that Til began to paint. She began working with oils but it was so slow, having to stop for days to let part of the canvas dry. Patience was never one of her virtues so she changed from oil to working with acrylic paint. Over the years her brothers, sister, children, grandchildren and many friends have received canvases or Christmas cards that she has painted. These are precious treasures to all who have received them.
Marilyn married in 1962 and moved to New Jersey. Til was left to work full time and care for two rambunctious boys. As time went on it became evident that David and Mark needed more supervision and Jacksonville was not the best place to be. In 1968 Til and the boys moved to Cliffside and stayed with Grandma Era Robinson for a while. She found a job in Shelby, N. C. and bought a house. She married Pete Cole in 1970. First she worked for the Shelby Police Department and then became secretary to the City Manager. With her organizational skills and hard work she soon became Purchasing Agent for the city and then City Clerk. She retired from City Government in 1987.
Like her mother Era, Mary Elizabeth loved the church. She studied the scriptures, visited the sick and helped out with many activities at church. In Shelby she joined Bethel Baptist Church and joined the choir as well as played and sang for her Sunday School class and for funerals when she was needed. In the 90s she took leadership of the senior adult group. She planned trips and special get-togethers for them. She also started a musical group and led them as they sang the old hymns on many Sunday evenings. She wrote and directed two special programs that the Senior group performed, much to the delight of all involved. One was called “All Day Singing and Dinner On The Ground.” This featured old hymns, story telling, and old fashioned costumes. The other was “Precious Memories.” This program was set around Christmas, reflecting her own memories, as well as those of the others in the group—of times gone by. Both of these programs have been preserved on video.