Jean M. Robb, former mayor of Deerfield Beach, Florida and 59-year resident, passed into eternity on Monday, June 19, 2017, following a brief, but fierce, battle with cancer.
Jean was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 8, 1932 to the late Ralph and Marie (Pellitta) Buonanno. She attended West Philadelphia Catholic Girls’ High School at age 16 and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English from West Chester State Teachers College. Upon completion of her Bachelor’s Degree, Jean taught high school English in Coatesville, Ridley Township, Pennsylvania, and also pursued graduate studies at Villanova University.
After her late husband, Dr. Leo Joseph Robb, Jr. graduated from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Jean and Leo moved to Deerfield Beach to establish a medical practice. Jean managed the practice, raised their six children and became involved in local politics. She was appointed to the Deerfield Beach Planning and Zoning Board, and also served as campaign manager for the late Mayor George Schott. In 1980, Jean was elected mayor of Deerfield Beach, an office she held from 1980-1993. In 2013, at the age of 81, she boldly decided to run for mayor again and won another four-year term.
As Mayor, Jean was passionate about expanding economic and cultural opportunities in the City. She worked tirelessly with the City employees, the Broward County Commission, Florida State officials, and City Residents, at all levels, to shape the future of Deerfield Beach. Her collaborative work in the community led to the establishment in Deerfield of the North Regional Broward County Courthouse, the Sun Sentinel, Toyota Southeast Headquarters, Publix Southeast Regional Distribution Center, and the development of the Newport Center. In recognition for her half century of work for her community, Jean was named a Broward County Pioneer in 2013.
Jean also spearheaded efforts to obtain funding with the City, County, and State governments to help construct Quiet Waters Elementary school (the first new public elementary school in 26 years) and the Gymnasium in Westside Park (named after her late husband, the only doctor in the city then, who treated British West Indies workers as they harvested crops and city residents).
Jean also helped to establish the first Alzheimer’s Day Care in Broward County, the Northeast Focal Point Center, and the Habitat for Humanity program in Deerfield Beach. She organized the Cultural Committee for the Arts Festival and concerts and convinced City officials to purchase the first Show Mobile.
Jean’s legacy is perhaps best exemplified in her tireless work to protect and improve the beach, including having members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida build the thatched huts along the beach walkway and her husband, Leo, drew sketches of the boardwalks that she helped to make a memorable reality for residents and visitors.
Jean was a member of the Deerfield Beach Friends of the Library. She was also a lifetime member of the Deerfield Beach Historical Society and the Deerfield Woman’s Club.
A life-long fan of the University of Notre Dame football program, Jean proudly displayed a replica of the plaque hanging in the Notre Dame football locker room proclaiming “Play Like a Champion” that each Notre Dame player touches before running out on the gridiron. It became Jean’s personal credo as well.
Jean is survived by her six children: Judith Robb Bullock, Leo (Nan) Joseph Robb III, Loretta Robb, Teresa (Patrick) Robb Glennon, Michael (Susan) Robb and Barbara Robb.
In addition to her six children, Jean is survived by eleven grandchildren: Saige, Richard, Caitlin, Mia, Kerry, Katherine, Mary, Megan, Madeline, Emily and Michael Jr.
Jean is also survived by her two sisters, Marie Ferrante of Ormond Beach, Florida, and Barbara Scheer (David) of Cape May Courthouse, New Jersey. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Leo Joseph Robb, Jr., sisters Marge Squadrito, Eleanor Gallagher, brother Norman Buonanno, and her beloved granddaughter Hannah Robb who all welcome her with open arms into eternity.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, June 24, 2017 at 9:00a.m. at St. Ambrose Catholic Church at 380 S. Federal Highway, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. Following the Mass, a reception will be held in the Parish Hall. Burial will be held in private.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Deerfield Packer Rattlers (DPR) Youth Enrichment, 228 S.W. 5th Court, Deerfield Beach, FL 33441; The Father Bryan Dalton Lifelong Deerfield Beach Parking Pass Fund with any additional funds to be used to sponsor educational scholarships for families in need at St. Ambrose Catholic School, 380 S. Federal Highway, Deerfield Beach, FL, 33441; and Trustbridge Hospice, 1531 W. Palmetto Park Road, Boca Raton, FL 33486.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at KalisMcIntee.com