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Paul G. Robbins, 71, Angelica

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Mechanical genius, community volunteer, businessman, kind

Paul Gordon Robbins, 71, of Angelica passed away at home on Saturday, March 23, 2024, following a long, difficult battle with kidney cancer. Born in Cuba, NY on March 11, 1953, he was the son of Curtis S. and Wilma Hunt Robbins.

Paul showed his mechanical ability early when at 4 years old he dismantled and repaired his family’s broken toaster; and in true Angelica tradition, he earned his childhood nickname of “Weasel” when quickly figuring out a solution to retrieve a motorized boat from the Conservation Club pond for the older boys he was with. He built his first stock car when he was 13, and bought his first lathe and drill press machines at the age of 16.

Paul was a 1972 graduate of Angelica Central School and the BOCES Machine Shop program. When the instructor occasionally had to leave the room, he left Paul in charge of the class. He earned the BOCES Machine Shop Senior of the Year Award that year.

Paul met the love of his life (Robin Kay Smith) in 1971 and they married on June 1, 1974 in Belfast, NY. They bought their first of eleven Angelica properties in 1975 and by 1980 had designed and built their house on West Avenue.

Paul worked for the Ontario Pipeline project in Angelica from 1972 to 1973, and operated the machine shop at Wellsville Auto Parts from 1974 until 1976.  He then built and established in Angelica his own machine shop, later incorporated as PR Engine Science Inc., which he operated for 48 years.

In 1986 Paul became a member of the Automotive Engine Rebuilders Association (AERA), an international organization of engine rebuilding machine shops, which afforded him the opportunity to meet and network with businesses from around the world. Paul was certified as a Master Engine Machinist in 1992 by the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE). He later worked with AERA on the ASE Certification Test Questionnaire Committee. Although many local businesses (Angelica Spring Co.), farmers (Bainbridge Farms), and industries (Dresser-Rand) were counted among his customers, Paul had gained a reputation for precision machine work and building dependable high-horsepower race engines for stock cars, pulling tractors, and street machines. He also developed machinery, fixtures, and tooling for the NASCAR teams of Petty, Childress, Gibbs, Elliott, Yates, Davis, and Labonte; as well as Brodix, Jasper Engines, Rottler, etc.

In 1995, Paul began designing an engine line-boring system and specialty tooling for a French company, Serdi Corporation. And, in addition to other projects, beginning in 2000 he developed two hand-braking systems for one of the world’s largest railroad car remanufacturers, Alstom Transportation. Paul is listed as the inventor for the first of the two handbrake designs. The United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the patent on December 6, 2005. The products he designed and built over the years can be found all across the United States, as well as in other countries such as Australia, France, Germany, and South Africa.

Paul was a natural-born teacher. Years ago he taughtmachine shop to Acme Electric employees, and later to his nephews and others who wanted to learn from him. He was a prodigy in math and science who helped with alternative education students, the GVCS students’ bridge construction project, and robotics project. He also was heavily involved in the betterment of Angelica as one of the organizers of Angelica Cruise Night; a long-time member of the Angelica Booster Citizens (Heritage Days, Luminaries, Main St. building lighting project); Lions Club International; and 21 years as an Allegany County Fair Board Director. During his time with Angelica Hose Co. No. 1 he spent 36 years as a volunteer first responder and interior firefighter. Paul also was instrumental in the maintenance and/or refurbishing of both the Angelica and Wellsville municipal clocks. In 2022 he was inducted into the Distinguished Alumni Wall of Fame at Genesee Valley Central School. A permanent plaque is displayed in the school auditorium.

Paul is survived by his wife of 50 years, Robin K. Robbins; his 90-year-old father Curt and 89-year-old mother Wilma of Angelica; four brothers, Victor (Susan) of Zephyrhills, FL, Wayne (Colleen) of Belfast, Jerry (June) of Angelica, and Marty Robbins of Angelica; five sisters, Anita Austin of Angelica, Cindy Smith (Andy) of Friendship, Darla Robbins (Rick) of Alfred, Debra Geffers of Alfred, and Patricia Whitney (James) of Belmont; and many nieces and nephews. Although he had a brilliant mind, it is heart-warming to see that many early condolences first mention “kindness, helpfulness, thoughtfulness, calm and collected demeanor, positivity, and roll model.”

All friends and family are invited to a “Celebration of Life” for Paul at the Angelica Conservation Club on West Avenue (across the street from Paul and Robin’s house), Saturday, April 13, starting at 12:00 Noon. There will be a brief ceremony by the Angelica Hose Co. No. 1 Fire and Rescue members at 1:00 pm, followed by a buffet luncheon, and viewing photos and videos, and sharing stories and remembrances.

Cremation was entrusted to director Chester A. Gosper IV of the Brown & Powers Funeral Home, Angelica.  To send a condolence to the family please visit www.brownandpowersfuneralhomes.com, or on Facebook @ Brown & Powers FH.

Those wishing to remember Paul are asked to consider a donation to the Angelica Hose Co. No. 1, 85 West Main Street, Angelica, NY 14709.        

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