By Zachary Daum
Robin Schultze, a pillar in the Lebanon community, announced her retirement from Robin’s Nest Antiques in early January. Robin has had an incredibly active life, spending several years in the Air Force, working directly with President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush as a White House Nurse and taking care of her family. Robin came to Lebanon in 2015 and eventually opened up her antique store, first in what is now Speak to Miss J’s, before moving to her current location at 217 W. St. Louis St. for the extra space.
Robin relocated to Lebanon a year after her husband, Thomas “Tom” Schultze, passed away, with the goal to own a vintage home, but not, at first, to open an antique shop. “My husband and I always wanted to open up an antique shop when we retired from our previous jobs. I didn’t think I wanted to do it without him so I was retired for three years from the Air Force.”
Robin purchased a vintage home, one of three built by a trio of architect brothers who built different types of homes in Lebanon in the early 1900’s. Robin’s was built in 1909 and is the oldest of the three. After being retired for three years decided she would open up the antique shop, Robin’s Nest Antiques.
Robin, along with her father, Bob Kittle, who had moved to Lebanon to help her, began working in the shop. “What that ended up being was (my father) sitting in a rocking chair, most days napping. Every once in a while he’d wake up and greet people as they came in the door so I called him my Walmart greeter.”
After working that way for several years, in December of 2019, tragedy struck. Bob took a fall and needed therapy. “He needed daily wound care and I thought, well, I’m a nurse, I’ll just take care of him. I really didn’t want to have a home health nurse do it so for the next two and a half years I lived at his house and came in to work every day. It became quickly apparent that he couldn’t live alone.”
Bob was eventually diagnosed with dementia and moderately severe Alzheimer’s, and Robin needed to take care of him more. Then in May of 2022 Bob had a small stroke. He began living in Cedar Ridge at the rehab center, and began deteriorating rapidly. He passed away on October 22, of 2022. More tragedy struck soon after, as Robin’s youngest sister passed shortly after her father, due to a home accident.
“That’s the thing that made me think, ‘I don’t want to be here’” Robin said, discussing why she had decided to retire. “When I’m here, I love it. I love talking to the people, I love engaging with everyone and telling them about the antiques. But I dread coming to work. I recognized that it’s time to put this part of my life in my memories and start moving forward because I’m getting older, I have things I want to do.”
So in retirement, what does Robin plan to do? “I love to garden and my yard has been neglected for the last three and a half years. I also love to travel. I own a 37 foot pull behind camper and I’m going to get that back out of storage. I plan to travel to the state and national parks. I’m not going to move away, I love my house and I love this community.”
Robin plans to first visit Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park in Missouri, getting used to driving with the camper again, before making further trips.
As a transplant in Lebanon, Robin said that she greatly appreciated how much support she received from the community from day one. “Most of us on the ‘Brick Street’ are good friends now. Any time we get new businesses I try to do the same as what they did for me. Before a new shop is even open we’re knocking on your door to welcome you. I love that and I love this community.”
Several people in Lebanon spoke up about Robin’s retirement, all wishing her well. Jeff Harris of Moon Penguin’s Emporium spoke highly of Robin, “She is a treasure to the community. She does so much for the town that people are not aware of. She has been extremely loyal to Lebanon and its business district. She’ll be very hard to replace as she is someone who will finish what she starts and help others get done what they need to do for the town events. She is very humble. We are very lucky that despite the fact that she is retiring and has roots in other places, she is planning on staying in Lebanon and continuing to help with town events. Her shop would have been much more profitable in a larger surrounding town, but she kept it in Lebanon because of how much the town means to her. I wish her all the best in her retirement as I’m sure everyone who knows her feels the same way.”
Lebanon Mayor Cheri Wright said, “I will miss Robin’s shop on ‘Brick Street.’ Her shop has always been involved in all of the events (in town). I know as a person she will always be involved in Brick Street activities moving forward. Everyone in town loves Robin.”
Aj Dontigney of Hangar 18 Guitars said, “She will be greatly missed on the street. She is so much more than a shopkeeper and friend. There have been times that she has responded to medical emergencies. She always helps with our ‘brick street’ events. On a personal note she has been there for me when I needed guidance, support and love. I am glad she will still be around for the merchants and the town and I am glad she is going to get to enjoy her retirement.”
Outside of Lebanon, Bernie Rasp-Mleczko, owner of Consign and Design in Mascoutah spoke highly of her as well. “I’ve known her for over 10 years and she is not only a God-fearing woman, but one of the smartest women I know. Her massive heart is beyond generous and helpful.”
Robin is retiring from the antiquing business, but she will continue to assist the Lebanon community in events like Witches Night Out and Victorian Holiday. Robin is looking to close her doors in May.