Former newspaper owner and publisher Robbie Goode Tate, 85, died Tuesday, leaving behind a legacy of professional and community service.
Tate had lived in Colonial Heights, Tenn., for about 20 years, having moved from Norton after the death of her husband, retirement and the sale of the newspapers. She passed peacefully in her sleep.
While in Sullivan County, she volunteered as a long-time member of Holton Valley Medical Center’s hospital auxiliary and would also serve on the Wellmont Foundation Board. She also served as treasurer of Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church and was a supporter of Holston Habitat for Humanity. While in Wise County, she was a member of Gladeville Presbyterian Church in Wise.
Born in rural Colfax, Texas, Tate landed in Virginia in the early 1960s as a traveling sales person who raised money for the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization and had an event scheduled in Norton. Her first stop was to the local newspaper, The Coalfield Progress, where she planned to place promotional advertisements for the VFW fundraiser.
The person who greeted her that day at the newspaper office, Publisher Carroll Nelson Tate, would be immediately smitten by the tall, thin red-head and the two were married shortly thereafter. At the time, she was divorced and the single-parent of a three-year-old daughter, Jenay. The Tates would have two more children, Carol Robbie and Michael Nelson.
In the ensuing years, Robbie Tate was active with the Green Thumb Garden Club and championed such causes as Keep America Beautiful. She was an accomplished artist and seamstress. She participated in the planning of Norton’s Diamond Jubilee and later would chair the committee that organized Norton Centennial Celebration.
After all her children were in school, the homemaker wanted to go back to work, as she had taken her first job at age 12 to help support her family in Dallas, Texas. Her father had died when she was only six years old. In Norton, Tate began in the newspaper mailroom, inserting and bagging papers, then moved into sales and rose ultimately to advertising manager then publisher after the retirement and illness of her husband. Under her leadership, The Norton Press Inc. expanded its newspaper holdings to include
The Dickenson Star and The Cumberland Times in addition to The Post and flagship paper The Coalfield Progress.
Tate was active for years in the Virginia Press Association, becoming only the second woman president and the first wife of a former president to also hold that position. She led the organization during a tumultuous time of personnel change.
Tate also served on the Virginia State Library Board.
Visitation will be Saturday, Feb. 9, beginning at 12 noon at Hagy Fawbush Funeral Home in Norton, with services following at 1 p.m. She will be buried in Highlands Cemetery, beside her husband Carroll and son Michael, both of whom preceded her in death.
Tate also was preceded in death by three brothers, Floyd Eugene Goode, Thomas Jefferson Watson Jr. and Delma Fred Goode, all of Texas. She was the last surviving child of father Robert Raleigh and mother Callie Lee Smith Goode.
Tate is survived by two daughters, Jenay Tate of Norton and Carol Tate Bryant and husband Don of Virginia Beach and four grandchildren, Hannah Grace Tate of Norton, Nelson Stewart Tate of Norton, Miles Andrew Tate of Norfolk, and Ian Michael Tate of Norton.
In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Holston Habitat for Humanity, 100 Greenwood Lane, Kingsport, Tenn., 37663.