Josephine M. ‘Aunt Joe’ Robinson, founding member of Open Church of Maryland and Community Concert Choir of Baltimore, dies

Josephine M. “Aunt Joe” Robinson, who was a founding member of the Open Church of Maryland and the Community Concert Choir of Baltimore, died Aug. 27 in her sleep at her Hanlon Park neighborhood home. She was 98.

“I’ve known her for more than 30 years, and Aunt Joe is just a lovely lady. She was the kind of person that people gravitated to,” said Marco K. Merrick, former choir director at Douglas Memorial Community Church, who established its Inspirational Gospel Choir. “She was so full of love and hugs. She just radiated love.”


The former Josephine Marie Johnson, daughter of Andrew Dew Johnson and Edna Virginia Scott Johnson, was born and raised in Camden, New Jersey. When she was 7 years old, her parents died, and she was raised by a great-uncle and great-aunt, Dr. Howard E. Primas and Josephine M. Primas, a registered nurse.

After graduating in 1942 from Camden Senior High School, Mrs. Robinson attended Temple University in Philadelphia for two years and in 1944 married Walter A. Wyatt Sr., with whom she had three children.


After the couple divorced, she married Richard E. Robinson in 1954. Two years later, they moved to Baltimore when he became a professor of finance, accounting and ROTC at what was then Morgan State College. He also later served as national president of the Buffalo Soldiers, an all-Black unit that celebrated the 9th and 10th Calvary that served on the Western frontier in the 19th century.

From 1964 until retiring in 1993, Mrs. Robinson worked as a professional meat cutter, first for Penn-Fruit, which was subsequently taken over by Big Valu.

Deeply religious, Mrs. Robinson first joined Heritage United Church and in 1977 became a member of Douglas Memorial Community Church, where she was an active member of the Altar Guild, We Are Never Alone support group and Inspirational Gospel Choir.

“At Douglas, she was affectionately known as Aunt Joe,” Mr. Merrick said.

Sandra L. Roberts said: “We were choir members at Douglas and have been friends for more a least 20 years. We both had a loving relationship with God, and we shared that. Aunt Joe and I were kindred spirits. I could tell her anything, and she was never judgmental and always gave me good advice to help me handle whatever I was going through.”

Mr. Merrick said: “When I started the Inspirational Gospel Choir, she said she wanted to sing, and that was when she was in her 80s. She was a very disciplined person. She took care of our music library and kept our repertoire in order. The choir really became her family, and in 2010, when I organized the Community Concert Choir of Baltimore, she joined.”

In 2011, Mrs. Robinson joined the newly established Open Church of Maryland.


“She was a founding mother of our church and the Community Concert Choir of Baltimore,” Mr. Merrick said.

Mrs. Robinson was a life member of the 9th and 10th Cavalry Association and for eight years served as president of the association’s ladies auxiliary. During her term of office, $20,000 in scholarship money was awarded nationally to young students to help them attend college.

“When she turned 90, we wanted to make sure that Aunt Joe had 90 cards, but she got tons more,” Mr. Merrick said. “The last time I saw her was on her birthday, which was Aug. 27, and I loved every minute I could be with her, and in her waning days, I’d bring Communion to her, and we’d sing.”

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Ms. Roberts would pick up Mrs. Robinson for choir practice, and they would go to parties together.

“We liked watching old Westerns together and singing,” Ms. Roberts said. “We just had fun, and even though I’m 71 and she could have been my mother, I always said she was my sister. That’s what she was. She was my sister.”


Mr. Merrick said Mrs. Robinson loved flowers and that her favorite color was pink.

“She so loved pink that I’m going to wear a pink bow tie to her service. Everyone is asked to wear bright colors and/or pink to celebrate her homegoing,” he said. “Aunt Joe had 98 years of living, and that’s still not long enough.”

Her husband died in 2015.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Wylie Funeral Home at 9200 Liberty Road in Randallstown.

Mrs. Robinson is survived by her son, Walter A. Wyatt Jr. of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio; three daughters, Sheila D. Ferrell of Cedarcroft, Adrienne C. Robinson of Hanlon Park and Edweana Robinson-Haynie of University Heights, Ohio; 17 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. Another son, Darryl E. Wyatt, died in 1986.