The late Robin Nadeau at Democratic Headquarters in St. Johns County
My friend Robin Nadeau died last night.
Robin Nadeau was nearly 87 years old, and she lived a wonderful life. She lived all over the world with her late husband Bern, who was a Foreign Service Officer and a diplomatic courier. They met on an airliner in Latin America, where Robin was a stewardess, working in the civilian equivalent of a C-47 in the early days of passenger flights. Bern proposed to Robin within 18 hours, because he was afraid they would never meet again.
After Bern’s retirement from the State Department, and after they ran a trailer park in Gainesville, Robin and Bern moved to St. Augustine Beach.
Like Thomas Jefferson, Robin Nadeau designed her own home. It was nestled among the trees in St. Augustine Beach.
Robin served on the St. Augustine Street Tree Advisory Board and the St. Augustine Beautification Committee.
Robin was a co-founder of TREES, an environmental group.
Robin Nadeau was an early and strong supporter of the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore. She spoke to our County Commission in support of the National Historical Park and National Seashore on November 1, 2011 – that was the first time Commissioners had discussed the park idea in 71 years, since 1940. (Pestered by tumultuous Tea Party apparatchiks, St. Johns County Commissioners didn’t support the Park and Seashore that day, but I reckon that they will eventually support it, and they will thank Robin Nadeau for being right.)
On December 13, 2006, Robin called me and encouraged me to help stop the Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County from buying a luxury Bell Long Ranger luxury jet helicopter and commencing aerial spraying of organophosphates. I promised her that I would do my darndest. (No one says no to Robin Nadeau. ) Cut to the chase: we won. It took nine months of struggle, but the people won. Not only was the illegal $1.8 million helicopter purchase cancelled, we got a full refund from Bell Helicopter. We won on the purchasing issue – there was no competitive bidding.
Then, under the leadership of Mosquito Control Commissioners Jeanne Moeller, John Sundeman, Janice Bequette, Catherine Brandhorst, et al., we eventually won the bigger fight on organophosphate poisons. Thanks to Robin’s leadership, our Anastasia Mosquito Control District of St. Johns County has not sprayed organophosphates for 2.5 years – a tribute to her determination. AMCD now controls mosquitoes using environmentally-friendly means.
Robin was an avid reader and a well-informed voter. She was active in the Democratic Party and the League of Women voters. Robin was a passionate supporter of “kicking the moneychangers out of the temple” – instating public financing and ending the increasingly corrupt system of elections bought by what she and Abraham Lincoln called the Money Power. Robin supported national health insurance – single-payer style – and was a strong supporter of it until she passed away. She was always sharing articles with me, and stimulating me to do better.
In February 2004, an unhappy misogynist-mossback wrote a ululating letter to the St. Augustine Record attacking Robin, (before the Record adopted civility rules for letter writers that bars them from personally attacking other letter writes). Naturally, I leapt to Robin Nadeau’s defense, and the Record’s Editor entitled my letter, “Thanking the Robin Nadeaus of the world.” I stated in pertinent part:
Thank you, Ms. Robin Nadeau, for your perceptive letter quoting Lincoln on “the money power."
Faster than a speeding tree killer's dump truck, with cliches by the carload, an unhappy Mr. Stewart R. Canfield wrote Feb. 3, condemning "the Robin Nadeaus of the world" for disagreeing with him, praising Bush for protecting "the strong," smirkily adding "Bush won."
Unfairly demanding unearned respect for President G.W. Bush, Mr. Canfield has written disrespectful letters full of swagger, accusing FDR of "Marxism," complaining of "Bush-bashing," stating that some of America's "enemies" are "walking the halls of Congress," and complaining about "bellyaching of NAACP and the Democrats" about the 2000 election.
Mr. Canfield's uninformed, irascible views are mostly intolerant and uncivil. Lincoln was no "woman." Mr. Canfield is no gentleman.
As Christians, let's forgive his Philistinism but expose his errors.
Our Constitution, in its majesty, protects Mr. Canfield's free speech rights -- rights that he disrespects whenever exercised by better-informed people who disagree with him.
As philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote, "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed, and third, it is accepted as self-evident."
Thank God for "the Robin Nadeaus of the world” who care more for working people than war profiteers…..
On January 6th each year, Robin Nadeau held a traditional Twelfth Night party at her home, where activists and politicos mingled, celebrating the last night of the Catholic calendar for Christmas.
Last year the Twelfth Night party was not held because Robin had suffered a stroke. In 2010, I fondly remember Robin at the Twelfth Night Party, resplendent in a red dress she had made decades ago. Robin was seated, just inside her front door, talking with our former Democratic Presidential nominee, Senator George S. McGovern – engaged in public spirited discussion about how to improve our country and protect our people.
Truly, Robin Nadeau was both a “force of nature,” and a lover of nature, and a lover of democracy, equality and justice. In the spirit of St. Francis and Catholic Worker movement founder Dorothy Day, she spoke her truths and inspired future generations.
After the November 1, 2011 County Commission meeting, I promised Robin Nadeau that we would win enactment of the St. Augustine National Park and Seashore Act. I said what I meant and meant what I said. Tonight is Twelfth Night, and we fondly remember Robin.
Robin Nadeau will be best be remembered by enacting the St. Augustine National Historical Park and National Seashore Act of 2012, preserving our history and nature forever. www.staugustgreen.com