Anne Durrum Robinson

Anne Durrum Robinson * 1913 - 2005 Anne died on June 7, 2005. This blog has been set-up to share remembrances from her friends and colleagues arounbd the world. Please constibute a favorite story of Annie, an anecdote, a quote or how she touched you. Anyone may comment but if you wish to add your own entry, please send an e-mail to and I will add you to the blog team.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

About Anne

Anne Durrum Robinson had a long and varied career -- or set of careers. She was a secretary, an office manager, a copy-writer, a free-lance writer for all media, a magazine editor, a broadcaster, an account executive for advertising agencies, a teacher at the university level, a building manager, a national and international presenter, a trainer of professional and support staffs, a trainer of trainers, a world traveler, a wife-mother-grandmother and great-grandmother. She wrote and performed on radio, TV, film and stage.

In recent years, she was an independent consultant, teaching workshops in many different areas: The Whole Brain, Creativity, Creative Problem-Solving, Effective Writing, Effective Listening, Creative Stress Management, Accelerated Learning, Use of Humor, Productive Aging, Mind-Mapping/Clustering, The 7 I's of Innovation (Imagination, Illustration, Ideation, Intuition, Incubation, Illumination and Futuring).

She was a presenter at three international conferences: the first international symposium on accelerated learning and teaching (Rio de Janeiro); the first international conference on brain dominances (Munich, West Germany); an international conference on creativity (Buffalo, NY). She taught workshops for the national Canadian Centre for Management Development. She has trained for business/industry, government and academia.

She wrote two light verse books: Never the Twain Shall Eat (about working women, written with her twin) and Symphony for Simple Simon (a light verse coloring book which has earned more than $50,000 for symphonies across the country and is sold nationally and internationally). She won two national one-act play prizes, a regional three-act play prize, a national song-lyrics prize and a number of poetry prizes.

She was a local member of American Society for Training and Development, a member of the Austin Area Intergovernmental Training Council, local/national member of The Association for Women in Communications (has twice been chosen outstanding chapter member), a member of the World Future Society, a member of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, a member of the American Creativity Association and a member of the Austin Women's Symphony League. She has been nominated for the Texas Women's Hall of Fame and has been included in Who's Who of American Women and Who's Who World-Wide.

The family requests donations be made to the Association for Women in Communications Scholarship Fund (click here for information or to donate).

From Anne's web site.

Visit Annie's Corner Store to purchase products created by Anne. Proceeds from the sales go to the Association for Women in Communications Scholarship Fund.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Celebrating Anne Durrum Robinson

To read the program for the memorial event for Annie, click on the title above. (PDF, 555KB)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Missing Anne

Sometimes I write to share stories. Sometimes I write to encourage others to take action with me about something I care about. Sometimes I write to clear up my own confusion. Sometimes just to express feelings that I can't contain.

The weekend after Anne died, I wrote a lot... trying to accept and incorporate all that I received from Anne Durrum Robinson. And come to terms with feelings of sadness -- about no more lunches with her -- and feelings of great joy -- for her liberation from a body that had become utterly excruciating to live in.

For all the time I knew Anne, we both lived with chronic pain. Over the last six months, miraculously, I began to ascend out from under some of mine. And, I just about to call her to celebrate this ... and her birthday... IN THE FLESH. When I heard she'd gone on and taken her full liberation, I felt really stuck. To celebrate with me in the flesh, she would have had to abandon that Freedom and cross back over into the pain... and that's not what I would ever want for her.

Such sweet ambivalence.

Out of that ambivalence, during my journaling Saturday, two "mini-sagas" emerged. (A mini-saga is a 50-word narrative. Exactly 50 words, a short-short-short story, like a "haiku," only longer, because it's a story. The kind of exercise that Anne loved!) I was reaching for something short enough to include on a sympathy card for her family but long enough to hold a taste of the complexity of our frienship.

Hey, Daytripper! Meet Yo Mamma

Born ahead of myself, I flew through youth, tried to juggle too much, lost my grip, and lurched past 50 -- smack into Anne Robinson. Sorely needing a role model, I traded the Mother of Invention a push in her wheelchair for wisecracks and a hard shove into the Present.

Suffer? No, Fools!

Anne Robinson showed me how to cradle the magic of the moment - and laugh outloud - without blinking an eye or turning away from the inevitable rape of time. When I hooked up her old Mac to a new used printer, she said it wailed like a birthing mother.

I already miss Anne's voice and her fingers and her laugh and her fabulous sense of style. I'm going to miss sharing confidences, whispered like school girls, trusting each other enough to share the WHOLE truth of the moment when it wouldn't be kind - or even useful - to say it all aloud. And I'm really going to miss her intelligence and bravery - so broad, so tall, so deep, and so gentle - all at the same time.

I love you, Anne... and I always, always will. I'll see you again in a little while.

And we'll both be all-the-way free.

Meri Aaron Walker

Monday, June 13, 2005

Loved Annie

I loved Annie! Being a person who seldom likes to be serious, I immediately loved her spirit and the fact that she is a woman who excelled without having to be serious all the time. She never seemed to see color and treated everyone fairly. Whenever I saw her at a restaurant (and that was quite often since we both liked to eat) she would remember my name and always introduce me to whomever she was with. She is definitely making God smile!

Mary Castleberry

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Lighten Up with Annie - she's making God Laugh

It was many years ago when I met Annie in ASTD when I was a very serious young man. She encouraged me to lighten up and see the humorous side of life had to offer to me. I always admired her quick wit and generosity of spirit in how she modeled good natured humor. Back in the mid nineties when my Humor University partner, Ann Fry and I were thinking of starting a company based on using Humor In the Workplace and she was the first person that told us to go for it. While other people thought I was a little crazy she was excited for me. She believed we all needed more humor in our lives and that it helped to foster our creative side. Well I now know she's amusing God with her razor sharp wit. That will be something I will miss along with how open, creative, and generous she was with her time and wisdom.

Favorite Annie Story

I worked with Anne through the 90s and, of course, loved her. My
favorite story that she told was of a time when she was struggling to
get some groceries into her car. An ill-mannered employee asked her is
she were sick. Sharp Annie (at about 80 and silver haired as we all
remember her) replied "Thank you. But I'm not sick, I'm pregnant!!!!
Dear, dear Anne. The world is less without her.


Friday, June 10, 2005

Unconditional Annie

"I am that I am,a shining being and a dweller in light who has been created from the limits of the devine."-- Egyptian Incantation

We have definitely lost a "dweller in light" -- someone who revelled in her own creativity and spent her life trying to share that creative joy with others. For the past several years, I've written two "columns" per week and I could always count on a positive response from Annie. I always thought if I wrote that the moon was indeed made of cheese, she would have responded, "How creative!" Most of us do not have an excess of that type of unconditional appreciation in our lives so losing someone who gives it to us so freely is a deep sadness.

I have been trying to figure out how to contribute to her memorial and, somehow, flowers, cards and contributions didn't quite seem enough. So, I've decided to try to live up to her standard of creativity and generosity of spirit -- it seems the least I can do for having been given the gift of basking in her light if only for a short while. Thank you, Annie ... and give Layne a hug for me.

Several months ago, I wrote the following which also has some of my favorite pictures of Annie ... one in a hat she made for Convergence and one where she is receiving a life-time achievement award with Ned Herrmann and Betty Edwards. You can see them here.

Many years ago, just a few weeks before the contract for my first book fell apart, I received a call from a woman who had been receiving my newsletter. She said she "just happened" to know an agent if I needed one. At the time I didn't but a very short time later, I was more than interested.

I called Annie Robinson back and we began a friendship. As we talked on the phone, I kept thinking what an interesting, dynamic woman she was ... full of energy and doing a dozen different things including creativity training, poetry, politics and more. What a surprise when one of her friends contacted me about attending Annie's 80th birthday party!

We met in person for the first time several years later when she attended Convergence and it was love at first sight! Annie continues to amaze me ... here's an email message I received from her this morning ... I can only hope I'm half as vibrant as she is when I reach 90.

From Annie: I'm still doing some training (two groups recently in train-the-trainer sessions on my CREATEAMS), mentoring my Hunch Bunch at Lunch on the many uses of intuition, playing a little bridge, reading at intervals, struggling to get time on my three books, distributing my new poetry volume,and seeing husband Harold through severe dementia. Praying for divine order in our turbulent world. Annie R.

Riding Unicorns with Anne Durrum Robinson

How many of us who have chosen to pursue the career of education may sometimes ask ourselves if we have chosen wisely? Difficult students, servers crashing during technical training, projectors that fizzle and die, corporate cutbacks, struggling to gain respect for a profession that puts emphasis on collaboration in a work culture that values competition and the bottom line – may make use question our chosen profession.

Spend an hour with Anne and you regain that elation you feel when students gather around you after a class to discuss excitedly what they have learned. Or low performing 7th graders, reluctantly heaving pencils out of backpacks as if in slow-mo at the prospect of another assignment, now oblivious to the call of freedom of the bell because you have unleashed their creativity. Spend two hours with Anne, and you will feel like you have been to a training spa!

Anne loves to delve into finding out what helps people learn, but even more she loves to talk about what it is that inspires people to want to learn. Anne’s specialty is creative thinking and she believes any individual or team can achieve better results if they unleash their creativity – either teacher or student.

Anne tells a story of a young trainer from South Africa she met in an airport, who told her she always closed her classes with a poem. Please share said Anne – always eager to learn. The young woman shared:

To Be Creative
To be creative is to trap the wind
And tame it for the blowing of a kiss
To be creative is to net a star
And, with its shining, light a room like this.
To be creative is to snare the sun
And transform daybreak into a blazing morn.
To be creative is to mount a mule
And, riding, change it to a unicorn.

Anne wrote that poem.

Oh, and did I mention that Anne is 90 years old?

Anne has been a secretary, business manager, building manager, office manager, copywriter, broadcaster (radio and TV), and an actress – and always with creativity. She has received regional, national and international awards for poetry, plays, song lyrics and light-verse books, including the National Headliner Award from the National Association for Women in Communications - Barbara Walters won in 1993!

When Austin ASTD formed 30 years ago, Anne was just getting started. Anne says it took her 30 years to grow up, 30 years to grow out, and the last 30 years are a bonus! This is her time! Learn something new each year, says Anne and she does. Anne still plans to take piano, painting, and Spanish lessons. At an age when most people are looking to retire, Anne began a brand new career. She began her training career at 60 as a trainer and writer for the Texas Welfare Department. When she retired five years later, Anne decided to launch a second career as a creativity consultant.

Although now confined to a wheelchair, Anne she still teaches creativity and intuition – and when she does, that wheelchair becomes a unicorn.

"The human mind is a treasure," said Anne. And so is she. We are proud and honored that Anne is part of our chapter. May we all ride unicorns.

Lorna Reutner

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Hodge Podge

by Anne Durrum Robinson

Race of little men - race of big men
Living for diamonds - living for bread
Butchers or bakers or history makers,
Saying the future or what has been said.
Life could be fun if you knew you'd be fed.
(Hush my little one;Rock-a-bye, Intellect.Sleep...)
Cramming the teens into cubby-hold college.
Planning the twenties to fit in a square.
Dusting the shelves for our poor, senile thirties.
How can the forties lead anywhere?
Play with security(Safer than toys).
Ambition's a goblin.
Adventure's a bogey-man!
Wide awake thoughts are for bad little boys!
And who ever balked at paying the piper?
Who minds a few pennies when the music's so gay?
Banks and debts and saving your money
...Age and hunger and rainy day.
Who cares a fig for squandered sunshine?
A bargain's a bargain, like it or not.
But we'll hate the Piper the rest of our lives
For charging for something we never got...

To Be Creative

by Anne Durrum Robinson

"To be creative is to trap the wind
And tame it for the blowing of a kiss.
To be creative is to net a star
And, with its shinning, light a room like this.
To be creative is to snare the sun
And transform daybreak into a blazing morn.
To be creative is to mount a mule
And, riding change it into a unicorn!"

Raising the Spirit

The idea for this interview derived not from wanting to understand how Annie is so creative, innovative or intuitive, but rather something that is characteristic of her - humor. The idea was to find out how she used humor in her work in nonprofits, but as we interviewed her it became obvious that humor was a tool she used in all of her life, not just on a volunteer team or classroom. Humor permeates her life.

We got something unexpected, as you often do with Annie, and absolutely wonderful - the elevation of sprit. The resurrection of the spirit out of the dust. This explains why people love to be with Annie. No matter what her situation is, you leave with an elevated spirit after an interaction.

To read the entire interview by Mike Bown, Tom Carrol and Paul Schumann, click on the title.

Anne Durrum Robinson: ‘C’est La Damned Vie’ and Growing Old Creatively

She once left LBJ speechless. It was the early 1940s, and she was working as a young writer for what is today radio station KLBJ. She was talking to an irate sponsor on the station's only telephone line when a gruff voice cut into the conversation, demanding access to the line. When she refused, the voice bellowed back, "Do you know who this is?"

"Yes," Anne Durrum replied, recognizing then U.S. Congressman Lyndon B. Johnson, co-owner of the station. "You're the second person on the line. Now would you please hang up?"

Johnson never reprimanded Durrum for the remark. If he had, her radio career might have ended there since she's never let anybody push her around.

Even today, sitting in her wheelchair (her 90th birthday was May 14, 2003, celebrated with a barbershop quartet serenade), Anne Durrum Robinson looks and talks like a sweet Texas grandma right out of Central Casting. But, as she explains, "I'm a Taurus: good-natured to a point." After that, one presumes, all bets are off.

Like all strong Texas women. Robinson is a dichotomy of sorts. From her Central Austin living room, surrounded by reams of popular magazines (Martha Stewart Living to Fast Company to Discover) and shelves upon shelves of books, she talks of her past, present and very relevant future.

Click on the title aboove to read the entire interview by Nancy Edwards on Anne's 90th birthday.


Intuition guru followed hunches till the end

Anne Durrum Robinson, who died Tuesday, hosted the 'Hunch Bunch at Lunch' to teach people to tap their unconscious thoughts

By Denise Gamino, American-Statesman Staff

Anne Durrum Robinson was in a hurry the past two months. She finished her last writings. She recorded seven CDs of stories and advice. She even asked a friend to bring her husband of five years to lunch so she finally could meet him.

It was as if Robinson knew her time was short. She must have had a hunch.
Robinson died Tuesday after suffering two heart attacks in the past week. She was 92 but ageless in her enthusiasm for life and zest for teaching others how to read their subconscious. She had taught a creativity class just hours before the first heart attack.

Robinson was an intuition guru with a worldwide reputation and the disposition of a fairy godmother.

For 30 years, she taught creative thinking classes in Austin and at international conferences. More recently, she turned her home near the University of Texas into a sort of brain salon, open to anyone interested in learning how to boost the mind's ability to recognize and use unconscious thought.

She called it the "Hunch Bunch at Lunch" and she presided over it from her wheel chair while wearing her trademark colorful muumuus and outfits with matching jewelry. Her giggles and gentle wisdom put everyone at ease, and participants adored her.

"She really believed in the power of intuition, people's hunches, and trusting that. And that we've gotten away from that over the centuries as human beings, and that the more complicated the world is, the faster the pace, and the more information there is, the more the need is to really return to that trust," said Phil Coleman, a computer systems trainer at the Texas Workforce Commission and a Hunch Bunch regular.

Robinson was ahead of her time, in some ways. Current American culture is recognizing the importance of intuition-note Malcolm Gladwell's No.1 New York Times best-seller, "Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking"-but Robinson had pushed the power of intuition for decades.

Mary Howerton, director of instructional technology at St. Edward's University and another Hunch-Buncher, said it was a gift to be in Robinson's presence. "What she always said was, 'We're born with intuition and creativity, and then we kind of get it hammered out of us.' "

Robinson graduated with a journalism degree from what is now Texas Woman's University and earned a master's degree in journalism from the University of Texas. In college, she interviewed Bonnie Parker before Parker and her outlaw lover, Clyde Barrow, were killed in a police ambush. She also interviewed Frances Perkins, secretary of labor under Franklin Roosevelt and the country's first female Cabinet secretary. Robinson never forgot Perkins making a point by poking her in the chest with such force that she fell backward.

Early in her career she worked as an editor for Lady Bird Johnson's Austin radio station, KTBC. Other jobs included secretary, office manager, copywriter, magazine editor, broadcaster, account executive for advertising agencies, university teacher, building manager, and national and international speaker. She also wrote and performed on radio, TV, film and stage.

A celebration of Robinson' life will be held Sunday at 2:30 p.m. in the Mabee Ballroom of the Ragsdale Center at St. Edward's University. 3001 S. Congress Ave, Visitation with family will begin at 2 p.m.

Robinson is survived by her husband of 60 years, Harold, daughter and son-in-law Lear and Scott Weaver of Columbia Falls, Mont.; five grandchildren; two great grandchildren; one niece and two nephews.

Austin American Statesman, June 9, 2005,


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