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Robin Clegg

Robin Arundel Clegg

Monday, April 19th, 1937 - Saturday, April 17th, 2021
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Obituary

Robin Arundel Trimnell Clegg
B. 19 April, 1937 Edinburgh, Scotland
D. 17 April, 2021 Grand Rapids, Michigan

Arundel Robin Trimnell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1937 to a single mother whom he never met. He was adopted by his grandmother Muriel Trimnell, and went to live with her in Kensington. Together they survived the London Blitz; when she died in 1944, he went to live in an orphanage.
In 1945 he came under the care of Victoria Clegg, along with her daughter Gabrielle and adopted daughter Rosemarie. Although she did not adopt him, he began to use the name Robin Clegg. Following the war, the family lived in Paris for a time, then the family moved to Hamburg, Germany when he was 14, where he continued his education. During this time he met his life-long friend Horst Fatschel, who urged him to join a basketball club. He did and loved it, playing for the team in leagues across Europe.
Robin began his culinary career working for the Four Seasons Hotel in Hamburg. In 1957, he moved back to Paris to work at the Hotel San Regis; at the restaurant there, he met and had lunch with Ernest Hemingway, and also met the actress Audrey Hepburn, who trusted him to walk her dogs.
He moved to Miramar, France where he had “the best job in his life”, working as a chef. But his success conflicted with his student visa, and he was forced to return to England. He worked there for a printing company, and realized he wanted to go to America. He posted his qualifications in the London Times, and the owner of the Pantlind Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan (now the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel) happened to be in London and answered Robin’s ad. The company offered to sponsor him to go to America and work in the company’s many restaurants.
He arrived in the winter of 1960 and lived and worked at the Pantlind Hotel for several years. During this time, his green card required registering for military service, and he chose the Army, where he attained the rank of staff Sergeant. However, this did not allow him to become a citizen; this frustrated him, and he did not become a citizen until 1980.
During the mid-sixties, he transitioned to managing the S&S Brothers appliance store and starting a family; eventually he moved the family to Portage, and opened his own business, R&R Appliance.
Then around 1980, Robin moved to work at Okun Brothers Shoes in Kalamazoo, where he began a long and notable career managing the store, until his retirement at age 77. Through his personality, sales and marketing acumen, he was popularly known throughout the region as “the Colonel.”
In 1983 he met his current wife Debra Keene: a mutual friend invited them to get together for a game of Trivial Pursuit and wine. The games continued (with no actual dating) until, with the help of his son Robbie, Robin finally proposed to Debra on December 7, 1985. They married the following spring.
Together they enjoyed Robin’s children and grandchildren, going to ‘the Big Lake’ on Sundays, tennis, hiking, and many trips to England, Europe and Hawaii. They enjoyed frequenting their favorite restaurants in Kalamazoo and Portage, forming a warm network of friends among the chefs and wait staff.
After Robin’s retirement in 2014, they moved to Grand Rapids, where Debra had been commuting to work since 1993. They enjoyed exploring their new culinary scene and keeping up with family. He continued as a huge fan of the Detroit Tigers, and the Michigan State Spartans, literally flying the Sparty flag from his car year ‘round.
In February of this year, severe pneumonia caused his heart to begin failing. After increasingly frequent hospital stays, he passed with Debra, his son Rob and daughter Wendy at his side.
He is predeceased by his daughter Leslie Colwell nee’ Clegg, and his in-laws Richard and Avis Keene. He is survived by his wife Debra, his son Rob Clegg (Stacey), and grandsons Nickolas and Evan; daughter Wendy Clegg; his son-in-law Dean Colwell (Laura) and grandchildren Claire Howell (Preston) and Elly Colwell; and brother-in-law Rev. Gary Keene (Karen Kitchel).
Robin will be long remembered for his wit and irascible charm, as well as his enduring talent in the kitchen, and his delight in serving the finest meals on the best china. Many wait staff here and abroad learned how to serve ‘his’ martini, nicknamed ‘The Colonel’: Beefeater’s on the rocks with a twist and ONE olive, stuffed with an anchovy. Cheers, Rob!
Condolences to Debra Clegg at turboredhead2001@yahoo.com; a memorial will be scheduled at a later date. Gifts in memory can be made to the Memorial Fund, Kalamazoo First United Methodist Church.
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George Covington

Posted at 07:36am
To a great friend who was always there for you. Many Memories together.
RIP Colonial.
George Covington
Coworker

NN

Nelson Nave

Posted at 11:15am
I met Robin when I worked for Marvin Okun as an Architect on one of their buildings. I liked Robin a lot and visited him at his store times later. Robin was always a good guy. See you later Robin. Nelson Nave
JM

James Gilbert, MD

Posted at 08:31am
One of my most memorable patients. I always looked forward to his visits. My sympathies to you, Deb, and the family.
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