On April 27, Cayucos lost a crusader and best friend. After a brief illness Arley Robinson peacefully said good-bye at his Cayucos home to friends and attending family members, including daughters, Lorraine Mackewich, Charlene Underbrink and grandson, Jeremiah Hobbs.
Like clockwork dressed in his signature black capped ensemble, Arley made his community rounds collaborating on untold projects to benefit and beautify Cayucos. Friends and associates appreciated his get-it-done spirit, work ethic, fiscally responsible management, and entrepreneurial vision.
Locals knew if you wanted to get something done in Cayucos, Arley Robinson was the go-to guy to join the team.
San Luis Obispo Supervisor Bruce Gibson said, “Arley was a wonderful friend and a quiet, constant presence in the community life of Cayucos. He spoke softly and was always willing to help support people, ideas and projects. That spirit has a lot to do with the strong sense of community evident in Cayucos today.”
Gibson lauded Arley for his longtime efforts representing the Cayucos Lions Club managing the Veteran’s Hall operations and successfully scheduling while turning a profit.
Arley was born in Mountainair, New Mexico in 1936. “While growing up on a small farm,” he said, “people pampered anything green.”
Once he saw the beautiful green hills surrounding his new retirement community, he wanted to get involved in its preservation. In 1999, he too was inspired by Roger Lyon.
He helped charter the Cayucos Land Conservancy, which has preserved lands from Cayucos to Piedras Blancas. For 20 years, he served as CLC’s Director of Finance and recently was designated Director Emeritus, the only member ever to receive such a distinction.
Used to working hard while owning restaurants in New Mexico, Bakersfield and Kingsburg, he remarked, “Whenever we find something we have a passion for, we’re never tired.”
The Cayucos Seniors Club might have been his foremost community passion. “My wife Edith signed me up. She knew I always needed something to stay busy.”
He’d just completed a successful fund-raising campaign, working with Allyn and Lee Arnold on the Cayucos Pier Plaza & Dale Evers Sculpture, so he volunteered to help the “ladies” with the annual rummage sale to help pay off the mortgage on the group’s Ocean Avenue properties.
Arley realized an opportunity to fulfill a community need for a retail thrift store that would generate revenue for senior services all year long and provide opportunities for retired Seniors to utilize their talents.
Since 1990, Arley has served as president or vice president for the Seniors group, including designee to serve on the replacement committees for the playground equipment at Hardie Park and beach and the Cayucos Pier Reconstruction Committee.
While the club’s representative on the Commission on Aging, he said, “We’d tour numerous senior centers throughout the county and I was always proud our center was operated entirely by volunteers; members took care of business and watched out for each other. Active minds and bodies had purpose — contributing to their community and the quality of their own lives.”
Soon after he moved to Cayucos, he was elected to serve on the Cayucos Citizens Advisory Council. Current chairman, John Carsel, said, “Arley was our institutional knowledge. If there was an issue that involved Cayucos, Arleyhad background and inside information about it. His wisdom, polished manners and respect for others, set a standard for all members of the CCAC to emulate. He is so sorely missed already.”
Gregg and Mary Bettencourt told how Arley understood that kids needed positive outlets to release their energies, so he fought a prolonged struggle to develop, then keep, the Skate Park next to the Vet’s Hall.
Always a patron of the arts, he was helpful in establishing the Cayucos Art Gallery and regular community art classes inside the Vet’s Hall offered by his friend Al Musso.
The sea-life mural on the pier’s public bathrooms, a permanent home for the Lost at Sea Memorial, clustering the Sea Glass Festival in and around the Vet’s Hall and becoming a charter member of the Morro Bay Maritime Museum, were more of his projects.
He was honored as one of the Cayucos Education Foundation’s “Men of the Year” and loved planning his “ride” as Grand Marshal of the 2014 Independence Day Parade.
Arley recognized hidden talents in people and gave them the chance to bloom, just like the flowers he loved to grow. He recognized my mom, Pat McKaye, was primed to manage the volunteer staffing for the Senior Center.
From age 81 until she passed away at 92, Arley Robinson encouraged her retirement passion, which gave her purpose, friends and the respect of the Cayucos community.
I’ll love and miss Arley forever, for being her best friend in her later years.
Freelance writer, columnist and author, Judy Salamacha’s Then & Now column is a regular feature of Simply Clear Marketing & Media. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (805) 801-1422 with story ideas.
Editor’s Note: The Bay News salutes Arley Robinson and his seemingly tireless efforts on behalf of his community. He was always a good friend to this newspaper, and to this reporter. A Celebration of Life for Arley is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sept. 10 at the Cayucos Vet’s Hall. — Neil Farrell