Sheina “Robbie” Gelnaw | Passages


Shortly after midnight on April 5, 2022, our beloved mother, Sheina “Robbie” Gelnaw passed from this world lovingly surrounded by her children.

Born Sheina Robertson Mallinson in Barry, Wales on April 29, 1923, Robbie was the only child of her Scottish father and Welsh mother. Robbie spent her early years in Barry and then traveled with her family to Sydney, Australia for a three year stay. They returned to Barry before the start of World War II and settled into life at their Barry homestead.

In 1941, having completed secretarial training, Robbie enlisted in the Women’s Army Air Corp where she worked at the regional headquarters until after the war. Once the war ended, secretaries were needed in Germany and Robbie went to work for the British Control Commission in Bremen. Later she transferred to the American Zone Liaison Office in Heidelberg where she met an American Sargent Robert Gelnaw whom she would wed one year later.

Bob and Robbie had twin girls, Jackie and Jenny, in Heidelberg and moved to the United States a few years later. Army life saw them moving frequently over the next few years and they had a son Tim to round out the family.

They were later stationed in Cadiz, Spain where they eventually retired from Army life and settled into life in a Spanish seaside city.

Years later Robbie returned to the United States, moving to Downers Grove, IL where she went to work at Walgreens for 25 years. After retiring, Robbie moved to Orcas Island where she resided at the Longhouse.

While on Orcas, she enjoyed volunteering for the Senior Center, Orcas Center, and the Animal Shelter. She especially enjoyed playing Spite and Malice, a card game, with a circle of friends at the Longhouse for many years.

Robbie loved life on Orcas. She said it reminded her of the hills and sea that surrounded her in Wales. She enjoyed time with her daughters who also lived here and was delighted when her son and family would come for long visits.

Robbie was preceded in death by her husband Robert Gelnaw, and sons-in-law Bob Kempfer and Tom Welch. She is survived by her daughters Jackie Kempfer and Jenny Welch, her son Tim Gelnaw (wife Michelle), grandchildren Ava and Mia Gelnaw, granddaughter Erin Grato (wife Deana), great grandchildren Oliver and Avery Grato, grandson Ian Welch (wife Asifa), and great grandchildren Neila Welch, Scorpio Hendricks, and Kendon Pasin.

Mom, you were ever loved and will be forever missed by all those who loved and knew you.