Morris Garage owner added to Bluffton Wall of Honor

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Jeffrey Robinowich, left, stands among a crowd of friends and neighbors in Town Hall Nov. 12, as Mayor Lisa Sulka, center, and others applaud his being named for the Bluffton Wall of Honor. LYNNE COPE HUMMELL

Town Council members inducted Jeffrey Robinowich into the Town of Bluffton's Wall of Honor Nov. 12 at 5:30 p.m., prior to the Town Council meeting.

In naming him for the honor, Mayor Lisa Sulka thanked the Wall of Honor committee for their diligence in selecting a resident so worthy of the recognition.

Among Sulka's remarks about Robinowich were the following notes:

Robinowich has lived in Bluffton since he was 3 years old, contributing to the town with community service and one-of-a-kind stories for nearly six decades. Robinowich has owned Morris Garage and Towing Inc., located on May River Road, since 1987.

His business has been the hub for countless community projects and event sponsorships. It is also where his neighbors and tourists can find his locally famous 24-year-old, 15-foot Burmese python, "Tiny." Tiny currently has a "snake dominion" in Robinowich's shop.

Robinowich came to Bluffton in 1962 after his father, Morris Robinowich, resigned as mayor of Graceville, Fla. (near Dothan, Ala.) to open a general store on Calhoun Street. Morris Robinowich bought the store from Harry and Dora Goodman, the only other Jewish family in Bluffton.

Known affectionately as "The Jew Store," it was officially called Planters Mercantile. It was a general store and sold everything from "groceries to caskets," as Robinowich said. This store had been owned by a Jewish family since the late 1800s.

The Robinowich family lived above the store. After his father sold that store and another one located on May River Road, he opened Morris Garage in 1972. Robinowich bought that business from his father in 1987.

Robinowich has contributed to the Bluffton community in numerous roles:

Bluffton Men's Club (1986-present): Robinowich has been a member of this monthly civic club and was president from 2009-2010.

Hardeeville Masonic Lodge (1986-present): Robinowich has been a Mason since 1986. The Hardeeville Masonic Lodge is a civic club dedicated to character development and community service. His father was a member and his son, Phillip, is currently a member. Three generations of the Robinowich family have been a member of this local lodge.

Bluffton Township Fire District: Robinowich was a member of the Board of Directors from 1988 to 1996 and was chairman of the Board in 1990.

Robinowich has been a sponsor of numerous local events, such as Taste of Bluffton and the local reggae festival, Reggae Pon De River, and has donated to major Bluffton projects, such as the Bluffton Dog Park.

Robinowich has contributed to Bluffton's character and culture through many stories.

In the 1990s, for a local fundraiser, he drove former Mayor Emmett McCracken to "Nearly New," a local consignment store, where the mayor "married" a female and male dummy. This wedding ceremony raised money for a local cause.

Also in the 1990s, Robinowich and the late Cecile Caldwell hosted a Friday night Bluffton news show on a local cable station. This Bluffton news show was taped in a recording studio in Town Hall. One night, he mentioned that the M.C. Riley Sports Complex needed a new batting cage. A resident called in and challenged his neighbors to fund this cage and, before the night was over, they had raised enough money to buy two batting cages.

Robinowich has driven the M. C. Riley Elementary School's Joleba Drum Corps on a flatbed in the back of his tow truck in the Bluffton Christmas Parade for nearly 20 years. He said he has been doing this so long, the children he first drove now have children in this group.

Robinowich said of all the positions he has held, his favorite one is "Pop-Pop" to two granddaughters and one grandson. He is expecting his second grandson in early December. Robinowich is married to Charlene and they have three grown children.

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