Although native Floridians, Freddie L. and Dr. Susie Blocker Stewart Robinson, Sr. , were only two hours away from each other in their hometowns of Fort Pierce and Sanford, respectively. It was an 11-hour trip up the road to Nashville, Tennessee that created the setting for this couple to meet.
The voice of the late powerhouse blues and jazz vocalist, Etta James, rocked the then-Tennessee A & I State University Homecoming dance in 1962, which provided the perfect backdrop for a chance meeting between the future husband-and-wife.
“That’s how I met him in 1962,” said Susie, still beaming over her college sweetheart. “I stepped on his foot at the homecoming dance.”
Three years later, they were married on February 8, 1965.
At that moment, they became inseparable, spending 52 years of their lives still doing everything “together,” Susie said, including celebrating as Golden Vintagers marking their 50th anniversary as TSU graduates during the annual event held earlier this month.
The two, who were both the first to graduate from college in their families, remember those times on TSU’s campus as a place that felt much like the family they left many miles away.
“My memory of TSU was that something was always going on,” said Freddie, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1967 and even ran for president of the freshman class. “It was full of activity.”
“The campus was very exciting,” added Susie, who earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1967. “People were close and friendly. People would help you when you were in need.”
Over the years, education became an important career path for the couple with emphasis placed on continuing their studies in the field. Freddie attended the University of Northern Colorado, earning a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Nova Southeastern University and a certificate in administration and supervision from Florida International University. Susie furthered her studies at Nova University in Fort Lauderdale, earning a master’s in administration and supervision, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
The duo has enjoyed long careers in education, and credit TSU for giving them their foundation to be successful. Both are long-time educators and administrators with Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Freddie retired in 2004, having served in many roles, including assistant principal and Principal’s Designee. Susie, who retired in 2016, was an elementary teacher, assistant principal, and principal receiving recognition as “Teacher of the Year” and “Mentor Principal of the Year.” Between the two, they have more than 70 years of dedicated commitment to academic excellence.
They remain active in the community and hold life memberships in their respective affiliations of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. They are also members of the Miami Alumni Chapter of Tennessee State University, and currently serve as University Supervisors for Pre-Student Teachers and Internships at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens.
Since the inception of the Vintagers program in 1971, Freddie and Susie have come back to every single one. But the year 2017 has been a little extra special.
“We are so energized and excited to share in this milestone,” Susie said. “I am just so thankful and extremely proud.”
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About Tennessee State University
With more than 9,000 students, Tennessee State University is Nashville’s only public university, and is a comprehensive, urban, co-educational, land-grant university offering 38 undergraduate, 25 graduate and seven doctoral programs. TSU has earned a top 20 ranking for Historically Black Colleges and Universities according to U.S. News and World Report, and rated as one of the top universities in the country by Washington Monthly for social mobility, research and community service. Founded in 1912, Tennessee State University celebrated 100 years in Nashville during 2012. Visit the University online at tnstate.edu.