Robin Walker Crane
Pine boughs lined the casement window. Battered brass candlesticks of varying heights held red candles, their tiny flames glittered in the windowpanes. A porcelain doll in a tattered dress sat in one corner, a threadbare teddy in the other. Red glass ornaments and velvet bows were tucked in here and there.
No, not a Macy’s Vintage Christmas display. It was Robin Walker Crane’s window above her dining nook. Every corner of her house held Vermeer-like still lifes, slightly dusty, but always lovely. Wearing her ubiquitous stripped shirt and silver bangles up to her elbows, she adored scouring flea markets and thrift stores for abandoned treasures, and bringing them home to have her magical way with them. Robin could assemble the most unexpected objects.
In her youth she was a member of South Coast Contemporary Dance Theater (1972 – 76). Along with Robin Ferry, David Heeble, Valerie Huston and others, she taught forty-two dance classes a week as well as choreographed and performed. She was a ballerina whose grace and pathos could take your breath away. When Peter Crane first saw her, she stole his heart away. He joined the company just to be near her. Their love was fierce and enduring.
A deeply private person, being on stage was actually torture for Robin. So Peter built her a house that was hidden from the outside world with corrugated tin siding. Like a geode, the interior of ‘The Tin House’ was a wonder that included a secret garden, in which Robin puttered everyday of her life. She made it a tiny Eden.
In 1981 their daughter Mariko was born. Year after year as Mariko grew Robin adored and adorned her with the most exquisite dresses and then costumes when Mariko also became a ballet dancer. Robin ceaselessly coached and supported Mariko, who at the astonishing age of just thirteen received the prestigious Margot Fonteyn Award in NYC.
Robin, a sixth generation Santa Barbarian, was born to Dorothy and Bertram Walker on March 7th, 1945. She was the great grand daughter of Ernest Shackleton, the renowned explorer. Ironically, she was not at all inclined towards adventure, but stayed close to home and was a devoted wife, mother and friend and an extraordinary creator of beauty in the circumspect world in which she chose to live.
At Serenity House in Santa Barbara, on December 29th, when the moon was full, our radiant Robin “shuffled off this mortal coil” and rose up and away. She died of natural causes.
She leaves behind her beloved husband Peter and daughter Mariko (and husband Steven) and boisterous grandson Sawyer, her stepdaughter Erin (and husband Keith) and their daughter Reya, her stepson Gabe (and fiancé Nuria), her in-laws Jeff and Kim Crane, Pam and John Riffero, Joel and Vasanti Fithian, numerous nieces and nephews, and her best friend Lark Batteau.
“…What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass,
Of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind…”
– William Wordsworth