Lee was born in Columbia Cross Roads, on April 24, 1931 (along with his twin brother Clyde) to Howard and Lisle Leonard Robbins.
He attended Troy High School, where he played many sports and was in the band. He attended University of Michigan and Mansfield University.
He joined the Navy, hoping to get into the Cadets flying program, but they didn’t want guys with flat feet and told him he would never be able to fly. But fly he did! He soloed at 17, flew many, many different kinds of planes, gave rides, instructed, built, and rebuilt many planes and wanted nothing more than to fly his whole life.
One plane he and some friends built, Breezy, was donated, and is on display, at the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center. He went to work for his brother Bill at Elmira Aeronautical Corp. at the Elmira Airport . There he washed planes, instructed, did the bookkeeping, and took passengers for rides to gain his many needed certifications. He was hired by Corning Inc. in 1954 as a co-pilot.
He worked his way “up the ranks” and became the Director of Aviation for Corning Inc. He retired after 36 years and thoroughly enjoyed every bit of those years, except for the times he was away from his family for days and sometimes weeks at a time. A few years before his retirement he was asked to take over as Director of the LPGA Corning Classic and he did for 11 years, while still with the aviation department. He was elected to be president of the LPGA Sponsors Board. He and wife Vivian volunteered all 31 years it was held in Corning. Lee was very community minded. He assisted his wife as a Girl Scout leader when he wasn’t flying, was a member and President of Horseheads Optimist Club, Horseheads Rotary Club, Trustee and President of the National Soaring Museum where he also flew and towed gliders for the Harris Hill Flying Club. Lee also served as Trustee at Glenn Curtiss Museum and organized their first fund raising Golf Tournament for them. He was a 60 year member of the Masonic Lodge of Troy, a past member of the Horse-eads Elks and Corning Country Club. Lee was honored to be elected a member of, and then Chairman of, the National Business Aircraft Assoc. representing Corning, Inc., served as board member and president of the Experimental Aircraft Assoc., the Red Cross, Southern Tier Economic Growth, Past Board Member and Vice Chairman of the Board of Elmira Savings Bank, Horseheads School Board for 9 years, Past President of Community Foundation of Steuben and Chemung County, and Vice President of Corning Enterprises. The three Robbins brother’s Bill, Clyde and Lee received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the FAA in 2002.
Lee is survived by his wife of 60 years, Vivian Gustin Robbins,; daughter Debra Lattin, Burdett, NY, Pamela Tarver and husband Paul, Meridian MS, and Karen Robbins (Carl Tremaine), Elmira; his twin brother, and “partner in crime”, Clyde E. Robbins of Troy; sister Jeanne Parker and husband Joel, Bridgeville, PA, and sister-in-law Rose Marie Robbins, Zelienople, PA. He leaves two granddaughters, Heather Rounds, Horseheads and Olivia Lattin, Burdett, (Debra’s), grandson’s, Daniel Hoover, Corning, (Pam’s), Joseph Heifferon, of Buffalo, and Zachary Heifferon, of Lynchburg, VA (Karen’s). He also leaves two great granddaughters McKenna Rounds and Annabell Rounds and many nieces and nephews. Plus many wonderful life-long friends and co-workers.
He was predeceased by his son Michael Lee Robbins, granddaughter Alicia Hoover (Pam’s), sister Louise Phillips and husband Fred, of Granbury, TX, brother Ray and Edith Robbins of Troy, and Wilfred (Bill) Robbins of Troy.
Calling hours were held at the Lynch Funeral Home 318 West Broad Street Horseheads, NY on December 28. A Celebration of Lee’s life was held at the Wings of Eagles (formerly the Warplane Museum) at 339 Daniel Zenker Drive in Horseheads on December 29th at 2 p.m.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that any donations to be made in Lee’s name to Care First Hospice, 11751 E. Corning Rd., Corning, NY 14830-3657 or Wings of Eagles Discovery Center, 339 Daniel Zenker Dr., Horseheads, NY 14845.
The family also wishes to express their many thanks to all the nurses that have come from Hospice to help with his care. Also, many thanks to his doctors through this battle, Dr. Bradley Lash at Guthrie Clinic, in Sayre, and Dr. Kimberley Kaffenbarger at Arnot Medical.