Meeting and chatting with Bill Robertson was a whole other story. "It just clicked as far as I was concerned," Pat Robertson says. "I don't think he felt that way, but I did."
"After I got home, I told my mother, 'I just met the fellow I want to marry,'" Ms. Robertson says. "She said, 'Tell me more!'"
The tall and handsome young Oakland native was the president of his fraternity at the University of California, Berkeley, studying agricultural economics and in ROTC in training to be an Army officer, Ms. Robertson recalls telling her mother.
Ms. Robertson was a receptionist at the J. Walter Thompson ad agency on the 25th floor of the Shell Building in San Francisco. "You come out of the elevator and you walk a few feet and you meet me," she says. She routed calls by plugging and unplugging phone lines into a switchboard.
It just went from there
Ms. Robertson, who had lived in Berkeley most of her life, managed to convey her interest in another meeting with the man she was smitten with through a girlfriend in his sister's sorority.
"He eventually asked me out," Pat Robertson says. "It just went from there," says Bill Robertson.
The courtship was compressed, as was his education, as more young men were sent off to war. "They were actually pushing to get you through," he says of his 3-1/2 years at Cal.
The two announced their engagement at a party at her parents' house the night of Cal's annual Big Game against Stanford University.
They were married in Berkeley's University Christian Church on Jan. 29, 1943, but only after Mr. Robertson took three finals in the morning to finish the classes he needed for his degree. They honeymooned in Palm Springs.
"Two weeks after that I was in the Army," Mr. Robertson says. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant and eventually became a captain.
He wasn't sent overseas immediately, so the young couple spent the first years of their marriage traveling from posting to posting, crossing the country four times.
When word came Bill Robertson would be sent overseas, "we decided I would try to get pregnant and that would keep me busy," Ms. Robertson says. Just as her husband was about to be shipped out, she told him the good news. She moved in with her parents in Redwood City and sent her husband photos of her steadily expanding belly.
Bill Robertson didn't see baby Linda until she was 9 months old. The couple later had two more children, sons Scott and Brad.
After the war ended, Mr. Robertson remained with other U.S. troops in Tokyo for nine months. "The Japanese people were in really bad shape at that time. They didn't have food," he says, and would board trains from Tokyo hoping to find something edible in the countryside.
Eventually Mr. Robertson returned home to a job as an insurance broker, and the family moved to a duplex in Menlo Park. In 1954 they moved to a 1908 bungalow off El Camino Real in Atherton that had been part of a larger estate. They never left.
"We just love this house," says Ms. Robertson, 97. The bungalow has high plastered ceilings with dark wood beams, several lovely brick fireplaces and floor-to-ceiling pocket doors.
Their children attended Encinal School and Menlo-Atherton High, and Ms. Robertson became a prize-winning floral arranger, working with plant materials from her own garden.
Son Scott Robertson grew up to be a Menlo Park Fire Protection District firefighter. He has been retired for more than a decade and now lives in Shingletown. Brad Robertson is an accountant and still lives in Atherton. Linda Robertson Burns worked in the Persian cat show world before her death in 1999.
Bill Robertson, 96, still drives himself daily to breakfast at Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, where he often is the first customer.
Although the two have traveled all over the world, Mr. Robertson says he still thinks the Peninsula "has the best weather year-around in the whole world."
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