May 20, 2020
Michigan’s Robinette Orchards’ James Robinette dies at age 92

James Edward Robinette, age 92, died Sunday, May 17, 2020 at Vista Springs Northview nursing home in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Edward and Pauline Robinette and brother-in-law, Richard Bennett. James is survived by his wife of 57 years, Mary Bethel Robinette; children, Ed (Alicia) Robinette, William (Sharon Vriend) Robinette, John (Karey) Robinette; grandchildren, James (Mckenna), Allan (Marah), Ashley, Anna, Sarah and Henry Robinette; brother, Burke (Helen) Robinette; sister, Janet Bennett; many nieces, nephews and cousins.

Jim graduated from Rockford High School in 1945 and served in the Merchant Marine at the end of World War II. He attended Michigan

James Edward Robinette

State College from 1947 to 1951, graduating with a degree in horticulture. He was then drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Korea, serving in a personnel office at Pusan during that war.

Jim returned home again to the farm, where he grew peaches, cherries, and apples with his father at Robinette Orchards. He married Mary Bethel Payne on June 8, 1962, and they enjoyed almost 58 years together. Together they raised the 3 boys and built Robinette Orchards into an agritainment destination.

Jim was a faithful man who served nearly all his adult life as a deacon, elder, and usher at Central Christian Church. He was always the one who led the family in prayer at every gathering. He had a sense of adventure and traveled widely. He enjoyed water skiing with his friends–even water skiing at the top of a 10-foot ladder! If you ever spent five minutes with him, you knew he was passionate about his family and its history, as well as his orchards and his gardens. Family and friends were everything to him.

A memorial service will be held at a later date to be announced.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Michigan State Horticultural Society, which provides monies for research and scholarships or the Alzheimer’s Association Research Fund,

To share a photo, memory, and sign the family’s online guestbook, please visit

75 Applewood Drive, Suite A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345


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