Deacon Paul Elliott Robinson, Sr.
Deacon Robinson was born to Mr. and Mrs. Joseph (Louise) Robinson, Sr. December 15, 1933, in Orangeburg County, South Carolina, the eldest son among seven siblings.
Deacon Robinson was educated in the segregated Orangeburg County Schools of Riverside School and Wilkinson High Schools. His father died at a very young age and circumstances required Mr. Robinson to take on various odd jobs such as cotton picking and assisting his Mother, Louise, who worked as a midwife to help the family survive. Shoe shining at the local train depot proved fruitful as soldiers and other travelers passing through Orangeburg provided a steady clientele. This helped to develop the entrepreneurial spirit that has guided him to this day.
During his formative years, he joined the St. Paul Baptist Church under the pastorate of Reverend Salley. Through his many years of membership, Deacon Robinson has served as Trustee and worked faithfully within other ministries.
Prior to completing high school, like many other Americans, Deacon Robinson was drafted to serve in the United States Army to during the Korean War, completing a three-year tour of duty. He served his country honorably and received a discharge later returning to Orangeburg.
Upon his return to Wilkinson High School, he met the love of his life, the late Miss Josephine Elizabeth Felder, whom he married following graduation. Together they have three adult children. Deborah (John) Herring of Atlanta, Georgia, Paul (Sherri) Robinson of Orangeburg, and Leslie Robinson of Marietta, Georgia. They have four grandchildren: Jia and John Herring and Paul, III and Sadia Robinson, one great-grandchild, Julian Levi McClain.
After the war experience and returning to the south and the “JIM CROW ERA”, Mr. Robinson chose not to go north but to stay in Orangeburg. When asked “why?”, by one of his children, he responded: “We All can’t run up north.” The entrepreneurial fever had been engrained within him and he enrolled in barbering at South Carolina Area Trade School which is now Denmark Technical College.
Shortly after completion of the program, Deacon Robinson opened his first barbershop, Professional Barber Shop#1, in 1957 on the lower end of Russell St. in Orangeburg. His business partner was the Reverend Henry Williams, Pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church. The objective being not only to sustain himself and family but to provide high-quality barbering services to the community and give employment opportunities to Black men.
Through the years Deacon Robinson developed the business that had grown to as many as four locations in Orangeburg. Professional Barber Shop #2 was added in 1963 on Buckley St. moving to Goff Ave. in 1970. Professional Barber Shop #3 and Professional Hair Designs were added in 1985 on Whittaker Parkway.
Deacon Robinson has been a licensed barber for 60 years and a licensed barber instructor for over 40 years. He has worked closely with the South Carolina Department of Corrections and the South Carolina Pardons and Parole Board giving employment opportunities and barber training to former inmates, for the purpose of being a bridge for those to reconnect to life and community.
The barbershop has employed and or trained over 100 people during the last 54 years of operation within our community. Of those 100 people, more than 20 have gone on to become small business owners, many within the Orangeburg community.
Deacon Paul Elliott Robinson, Sr., Man of God, Family man, servant of mankind. There are unknown stories of the countless individuals who were aided by an encouraging word or an opportunity to become a barber or an opportunity to meet Jesus.
Deacon Robinson has served Our God, his family, community, and St. Paul Baptist Church well in many varied ways. Known and unknown, much of his work with his fellowman is known only to God and those whom he has assisted.