James Alan Robbins, 76, of New Castle passed away Wednesday, October 26, 2022. He was born on July 12, 1946 in Muncie, Indiana to the late Wayne Howard and Dorothy Ruth (Kirklan) Robbins.
As a child, he had survived polio, with the help of his loving mother. As a result, he was able to live a happy childhood idolizing Roy Rogers before maturing to adulthood and leading a full and rewarding life. Jim graduated from Muncie Central High School in 1964. He commuted to Ball State from his parents’ house in Muncie and eventually earned three degrees at BSU: his Bachelor of Science degree in education, his Master’s degree in Public Relations, and his Ed. S. in educational administration. He was also a member of the Delta Chi fraternity at Ball State. He had photographic evidence that Dave Letterman was his classmate in an undergraduate radio class.
He married Joy Ann McMechan on June 28, 1969. They had two ceremonies — one in College Corner, Ohio and the other across the street in Indiana. They were married forty years before she succumbed to breast cancer in 2010.
Jim was an accomplished educator. He began his teaching career at Montpelier/Hartford City High School. Then, at Blackford High School, he taught speech, radio-tv, drama, and English, coached the speech and debate teams, and directed school plays. His first year at New Castle Chrysler High School, his debate team won the state championship. In his tenure as speech and debate coach, JR (an affectionate nickname given him by his students) qualified numerous team members to compete at the state and national levels. In addition, he was an adjunct professor for Ball State University at Grissom Air Force Base.
Jim briefly interrupted his teaching career at New Castle to become the first ever Director of the Division of Student Activities for the Indiana High School Principals Association. He was active in many organizations, including the National Forensic League, National Education Association, Indiana Speech Association, New Castle Breakfast Optimist Club, and First Presbyterian Church. Jim has received several awards through the years: Hero in Education Award and the National Forensic League Triple Diamond Distinction Award and Hall of Fame.
Jim and his late wife, Joy, had a passion for coaching young women to achieve their goals in the Miss America Pageant and helped five women become Miss America. In 2017, Jim was inducted in the Academy of Honor with the Miss Indiana Pageant.
Their coaching and consulting developed into a business they called “Image Improvement” and they went beyond beauty pageants to help people from all walks of life — job-seekers, pastors, scholarship applicants, military academy candidates, and politicians. Their clients learned how to communicate better and discovered how to put their best foot forward. Jim, known for providing his own rimshots to his terrible puns and corny rhymes, always reminded their clientele, “Pause for the cause and you’ll get the applause.”
Jim was loved and respected by the thousands of students he taught and by the many friends he made over the years. Though the recent years were trying, Jim was appreciative of the care he received from the doctors, nurses, and attendants at Hickory Creek and at Ball Hospital.
Jim is survived by his nephew, James Michael McMechan and his children, Mac McMechan and Eric McMechan; a niece, Joni (Paul) McMechan-Checchia and her child, Andrew Checchia; godson, Wes (Caylie) Dicken; and wonderful friends, Chris and Steve Dicken, Aaron and Brittany Dicken, Luke Dicken and Cathy (Kerry) Vonderheide.
Visitation will be from 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Friday, November 4, 2022 at Hinsey-Brown Funeral Service in New Castle. Services will be at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 5 at the funeral home with Pastor Rod Smith officiating. Burial will follow at College Corner Cemetery in College Corner, Ohio. Memorial contributions may be made to the James A. and Joy A. Robbins Scholarship through the Henry County Community Foundation or First Presbyterian Church. You may express condolences or share a memory of Jim at www.hinsey-brown.com.