Valarie F. Robinson, a public relations aide who promoted state business growth, died Tuesday of a heart attack while vacationing in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She was 53 and lived in Waverly.
A state worker for 32 years, she was a communications specialist in the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. She had earlier been a secretary at Morgan State University and office manager for the president of the Baltimore City Council.
She was the editor of Maryland Business and You, a quarterly newsletter distributed electronically throughout the state. Her most recent publication was a Spanish-language translation of the Small and Minority Business Resource Guide to the State of Maryland. She also wrote speeches for her department's secretary.
After a tornado hit La Plata on April 28, she was part of a team who visited business owners there to help them rebuild.
Born Valarie Lane in Baltimore and raised on Luzerne Avenue, Mrs. Robinson was a 1967 graduate of Patterson High School. She earned a diploma from the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland and in 1998 earned a telecommunication degree from Morgan State University.
Her professional career began in 1969 when she worked as a secretary at what was then Morgan State College. Several years later she became an administrative secretary for former state Sen. Verda F. Welcome. In the 1980s, she was office manager for Mary Pat Clarke, former Baltimore City Council president.
Mrs. Robinson joined the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development in 1989 and was a project manager in an economic research office. She later switched to the agency's communications branch.
"She was a deeply spiritual person. She was devoted to her faith and her family," said Tori Leonard, public relations director for the Department of Business and Economic Development. "She always sought new horizons, to take on new tasks and learn new areas. She started out as an office secretary and worked her way up to a communications officer.
"She was a warm, generous, dignified person. I never heard her raise her voice. She had a gracious spirit that she brought to every aspect of her professional life," said Ms. Leonard.
"She had an absolute willingness, every day, to do the job," said Jacqueline Lampell, communications director for the state agency. "She was a stalwart. Citizens call us every day and they demand instant access to information. She answered questions cheerfully, knowledgeably - and got back to people in a timely fashion. She walked in the door every day with a smile on her face and asked what she could do for you."
Services will be held at 9:30 a.m. Monday at Huber Memorial United Church of Christ, 5701 York Road, Govans, where she was a member.
She is survived by her husband of 32 years, Osborne Robinson Jr.; a son, Osborne Robinson III; two daughters, Lisa Robinson and Nikita Robinson; a brother, Herbert Lane; four sisters, Gladys Mello, Elsie Stewart, Carolyn Beane and Sylvia Lane, all of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.