On January 15, 2020, Robin (Ball, Hopkins) Neiswender finished a courageous stand against heart disease and diabetes. Like nearly every morning of her sixty-five years, she began with a smile, a warm hello, then yielded to her heart’s last beat.
Robin was born in Tacoma, Washington, on December 1, 1954, and was adopted by loving parents, Harry and Marion Ball. Robin spent her life in the Puget Sound area. At age two, she was diagnosed with a congenital ventricular septal defect (VSD) and had corrective surgery in 1958. In 1965, she was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and was insulin-dependent until 2003, when she had a pancreas and kidney transplant. Although technically still considered diabetic, she lived insulin-free for the rest of her life. Despite diabetes that hardened her arteries and destroyed nerves in her body, the disease could not touch her positive love of life and the magic of her humor and joy that lifted the spirits of everyone around her.
Professionally, Robin graduated from Seattle Pacific University with a degree in Psychology, having majored in developmentally delayed education. She became a Certified Drug & Alcohol Counselor and spent most of her career working in the Criminal Justice System. She was a skilled photographer, stuffed animal creator, wood-carver, artist, painter, and what she called, “a would-be sculptor.”
In 1987, Robin met John Neiswender, “the love of her life.” In 1994, they married and Robin embraced the inclusion of John’s three children who later blessed her with the role of Grandma Robin to six grandchildren. John and Robin moved to Gig Harbor from Fife in 2001. In 2018, they moved to Heron’s Key in Gig Harbor, where despite gradually failing strength, Robin poured herself into creative endeavors and deep friendships. Every day began as her last day did, with a smile, with determination, with concern for others.
She will be remembered for her love of God, her love of life, and her spirit of adventure that proudly proclaimed that no disease would stop her from “doing anything that I want to do.” No one who knew her doubted. We who love her, remember that she climbed to Camp Muir on Mount Rainier, skydiver, she was; she fished deep seas off the Florida coast, she photographed wild animals in many National Parks, meeting new people, making new friends, along the way. An avid fan of Amy Grant’s, Robin and John twice traveled to Amy’s Tennessee farm, and attend any of her concerts within 100 miles of home. The tickets she held for Amy’s concert April 5, 2020, in Bellingham will be given to friends.
Robin Neiswender is survived by her loving husband John, her three step children, Phil Neiswender, Jodie Laing, and Jon Neiswender; six grandchildren, Lindsey Neiswender, Evan Laing, Hailey Neiswender, Lincoln Neiswender, Hannah Laing, and Grace Neiswender; her brother Joseph (Toby) Armstrong (Carlene Armstrong) of Elliston, Montana, her two half-sisters both named Phyllis, and numerous nephews, niece and cousins.
Thank you, Heron’s Key staff and residents. The outpouring of your love and support proved beyond belief that our move here was providential.
Thank you, UW Valley Medical Center. The tender and incredible care your nursing staff and doctors extended stabilized us in the midst of our instability.
The Neiswender family suggests that in lieu of flowers, all expressions of respect be given to the American Diabetes Association at https://www.diabetes.org/donate
As a caring neighbor so poignantly wrote: “Robin is skipping around heaven, NO PAIN, NO CANE.”
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American Diabetes Association
Seattle-Tacoma, Washington 2815 Eastlake Avenue East #240, Seattle WA 98102