NORTH CANAAN — Robin Nada Thew, 94, who died on April 30, 2020, was born on Nov. 30, 1925, in Westport, Conn., to a creative family. Her father, Robert Garrett Thew, a sculpture and painter working primarily in the advertising industry and her mother, Elsie Green Thew, a journalist, welcomed her into a world full of inspiration and ingenuity that would follow her all of her life. At a young age, Robin showed outstanding artistic abilities and at 12 years old was selected by Good Housekeeping to design several patterns for its issues.
Throughout high school, Robin was recognized for her exemplary artistic abilities, which seemingly knew no bounds — from sewing, to sculpting and painting — her imagination inspired ingenious caricatures and magical scenes. She attended the Art Students League in New York City, and went on to work with several clothes designers, eventually designing windows for such businesses as Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s. She was married in the late 40s and had two boys, Michael and Gary Lincoln.
During the 1960s, Robin was introduced to Gene Moore, the famous window dresser at Tiffany & Co., who commissioned her to design five separate windows for their stores to showcase their jewels. Robin crafted a mischievous gang of mice robbers from papier-mâché to decorate the windows. The work was voted best windows on Fifth Avenue that year, much to the chagrin of its competitor, Cartier, whose letter in response to the windows as “irresponsible subject matter” garnered numerous curious onlookers.
Robin subsequently designed three additional windows for Tiffany’s, which inspired a children’s book, in collaboration with her daughter, Katie Rocco, about a little girl’s love of horses. She continued to create remarkable artwork such as doll designs for a Little Orphan Annie, The Cat in the Hat, and a Charlie Chaplin doll for Milton Bradley in 1971 that was endorsed by Charlie Chaplin himself, winning Doll of the Year.
Her soft sculpture displays in Westport and New Canaan stores like Pic a Pants and the Remarkable Book store were widely known and loved and when she moved to northwest Connecticut, her work’s legacy grew. Her paintings adorned the walls of many local shops like the Salisbury Antique Center, Chaiwalla, April 56 and Four the Birds Gift Shop, and her whimsical animal creations were widely recognized and admired. Robin’s greatest love was making others smile with her artwork.
For the past 11 years, Robin lived at Geer Nursing and Rehabilitation in North Canaan, where she continued producing artwork until last year.
She is survived by her brother, John Thew of Norfolk; her daughter and son-in-law, Katie and Doug Rocco of Sandisfield, Mass.; her granddaughter, Cailin Rocco, and grandson, Jason Lincoln, of Middletown, Conn.; and her granddaughter, Joy Ide of Pennsylvania.