Margarette Robinson, nurse, businesswoman, and community activist, was born on August 28, 1935, in Baldwin, Louisiana, to Louis and Eunice Thompson. She attended schools in her local parish and graduated from Franklin High School as salutatorian. She was the first black student at St. Clare’s Hospital School of Nursing in New York City in 1956. After graduating she relocated to Houston and married Judson Robinson, Jr., on June 8, 1958. They had two sons, Judson III and Gerald (who died as an infant), and one daughter, Pamela. In the late 1950s she became the first black operating room nurse at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, where she worked beside the renowned heart surgeon Denton Cooley and other surgeons. Robinson also became the first African-American surgical nurse at the Houston Veterans Hospital and the first black industrial nurse at the Anheuser-Busch plant in Houston. She served as a clinical instructor in nursing at Prairie View A&M College (now Prairie View A&M University) in 1967. Robinson also took courses at the University of Houston, Houston Community College, and the American College of Real Estate.
Robinson retired from nursing in 1972 to assist in operating the family business of Judson W. Robinson & Sons Real Estate and Mortgage Company where she served as vice president. Her husband had been the first African American elected to the Houston city council. Margarette Robinson was active in the community and helped to build what became known as historically-high voter turnout in the Pleasantville neighborhood in Houston. She very active in the Pleasantville Civic Club; the Houston Chapter of The Links, Incorporated; and the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary.
In November 1990 her husband Judson, Jr., passed away and left a council vacancy. In December 1990 Margarette was appointed by the Houston city council to serve the remaining term of her husband’s seat. Their son Judson Robinson III was elected to the council in 1991. During the 1990s Margarette Robinson served as health advisor to Harris County Commissioner El Franco Lee, and she organized community outreach programs and health awareness initiatives. After five years of service Robinson retired and spent some years consulting for Mary Kay Cosmetics. She died due to complications from lung disease on May 28, 2012, in Houston. Robinson’s funeral Mass was held at St. Mary of the Purification Catholic Church. She was buried in Paradise South Cemetery in Pearland.
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Houston Chronicle December 20, 1990; June 2, 4, 2012. Houston Forward Times, June 6, 2012.
Health and Medicine
Nurses and Nurse Administrators
Upper Gulf Coast
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Shawna D. Williams,
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 13, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
May 23, 2013
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 1, 2017
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: