Mari Lu Robbins passed away peacefully March 9, 2021, in the company of her family. Born March 12, 1936, in Santa Cruz to Benjamin Franklin Smith and Joy Helena Kaas, Mari Lu earned a teaching credential from CSU, San Jose, and began a career in education. As Mari Lu Nigro, she taught English at Del Mar Junior High School in Santa Cruz and then sold real estate for several years in Paradise. She later earned a special education certificate and taught at Paradise High School. Mari Lu then earned a Master’s in special education from CSU, Chico. This led to positions in Fairfield, Santa Rosa, and Napa.
Mari Lu married Frank C. Nigro in 1958 and they raised five children together. She later married Lysle B. Robbins in 1990, and they enjoyed 25 years of marriage, traveling throughout most of the 49 continental states in the United States as well as parts of Canada. Other trips took her to England, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, New Zealand, Fiji, and Australia.
When cancer forced Mari Lu to retire in 1993, she remained involved with education, serving as an online tutor for AOL and writing many teaching guides for Scholastic. She self published Long Hair’s Woman, a novel about a Cheyenne woman, and she wrote an autobiographical work about the daughter of a traveling revivalist preacher during the Great Depression. Her writing led her to sustained relationships with other aspiring writers in the San Jose area and online, and she also enjoyed long, enduring friendships she had formed in England and New York.
Mari Lu is predeceased by her husband Lysle. She is survived by a brother and his wife, Ben and Pat Smith of Copperopolis, by her daughter Christi Sterle of Chico, her daughter Gina Bayer and her husband Chris of Aptos, and her son Frank Nigro and his wife Kazumi of Redding. Daughter Patricia and son Mark predeceased Mari Lu. Her grandchildren are Amber Nigro of Oroville, Michael Sterle (wife, Colleen) of Chico, Shawna Sterle of Napa, David Sterle (wife, Danielle) of Grand Junction, Colorado, Alasia Ward of Corralitos, Jacob Sterle of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Francesco and Julian Nigro of Redding. Her great grandchildren are Evan Nigro of Oroville, Arianna, Joshua, and Elijah Sterle of Chico, and Ellia Sterle of Grand Junction. Her great great grandchild is Jubilee Nigro of Oroville. Though she had much to be proud of in her accomplishments, she was most proud of the people in her life. Her family, she repeatedly remarked, was the most important thing to her.
A celebration of Mari Lu’s life is in the works. In lieu of flowers donations to the Hope Services would be greatly appreciated.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mari Robbins, please visit Tribute Store