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April 28, 1929 – Aug. 10, 2014

The Rev. David Alfred Robinson, founding pastor and bishop of New Life Center United Pentecostal Church in the City of Tonawanda, died Sunday in the Schofield Residence, Town of Tonawanda. He was 85.

Born in Bloomington, Ind., the youngest of seven children, he played basketball in high school. After marrying Patricia Carrell in 1948, he worked in his family’s construction company.

Bishop Robinson was drawn to the ministry after attending Pentecostal services with his wife’s mother. Shortly after receiving inspiration at a revival meeting, he began preaching in his wife’s family’s church, then began building his own church with his wife, mixing mortar and laying bricks.

After 10 years there, he became pastor of churches in Huntington, W.Va.; Turlock, Calif.; and Shreveport, La.

In 1967, the Robinsons returned to California and began evangelizing. They went on to travel across the nation for four years, holding tent meetings and revivals. They also released two albums, “Robinsons Out West,” recorded in Merle Haggard’s studio in Bakersfield, Calif., and “Going Higher.”

They settled down to pastor a church in Tupelo, Miss., in 1971, but at a church conference the following year, a letter was read pleading for a pastor in Buffalo, and the Robinsons responded.

Shortly after arriving here towing a boat filled with their possessions, the Robinsons held their first service for a group of 30 worshippers in the Columbia Hook and Ladder Fire Hall in North Tonawanda. The new congregation took up offerings in beer trays.

After a short time, they moved to a former Free Methodist church, “the little brown church,” on Adam Street in the City of Tonawanda, then shared church facilities in Buffalo.

In 1977, they purchased the former Millstream School in the City of Tonawanda and established the New Life Center. They also started a day care center, built a new sanctuary in 1982 and established the New Life Christian School in 1983.

Bishop Robinson was active in the United Pentecostal Church International, serving as a presbyter, district secretary and district superintendent of the New York District for 35 years.

On the national level, he was executive presbyter of the Eastern Zone. He was inducted into the UPCI Order of Faith in 2013.

In addition to his wife, survivors include a daughter, Angelene Wahler, whose husband is current pastor of New Life Center; a son, Rev. Rick; a sister, Violet Foster; and two grandchildren.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday in New Life Center United Pentecostal Church, 80 Luksin Drive, City of Tonawanda.