Lavonia Robinson Quiros 1929-2023


Born in Denver, Colorado, to James Leslie and Winifred Robinson. The family moved to Ludlow, CA when Lavonia was 5, where her parents and grandmother, Nora, ran a small café, providing bag lunches to the miners of the area. Lavonia recalls fending off her younger brother, George, from the many snakes and scorpions while playing in the desert out back.

They soon moved on to Los Angeles, where their mother and uncle would supplement their income by playing piano and horn at various cafes and bars for tips. A love of music was instilled in Lavonia, with lessons in piano and voice, and during high school, she would sing for weddings and receptions.

Upon graduation, she enrolled in a secretarial school, became skilled at taking dictation in shorthand and typing, and soon was working in LA with Title Insurance and Trust Company. Those skills were more than valued; they were expected, as deeds and legal descriptions were produced on manual typewriters with five carbon copies, acceptable only when flawless.

Sunday Mass was a family tradition, and after several approaches after church by a shy young man from Costa Rica with limited English, Lavonia was soon courted by Mario C. Quiros. While teaching her to drive his ’38 Ford coupe, with a squeak that resembled a bird call, he exclaimed, “It sounds like a cannery” (canary). They married at the same church in 1949.

Their firstborn, Helen Patricia, succumbed to heart failure after a short week of life. But three healthy children soon followed: Mario Joseph, Elena (Nena), and Marta. Life in a brand new tract home in Canoga Park was good, but Mario C. had recently received his state license as a land surveyor, started his own business, and took jobs six days a week from Long Beach to Oxnard to maintain adequate income. Because money was tight, he resisted giving the kids lessons beyond school, but Lavonia prevailed, and they all got exposure to music, swimming, and art. The fruit of those lessons lasted a lifetime.

In October of 1962, the family moved to Malibu into what was, and remains, a tiny beach cottage of less than 1000 square feet. While it had a single bedroom, it also had a loft with three bunk beds. Lavonia never moved again.

Once all the kids were away at college, Lavonia quickly saw an empty nest as an open door to explore where her old secretarial skills might lead in a new working world. First up was GTE, where she remained for enough time to confirm in herself that she was of value in the workforce. Eventually, the surveying business of Mario C. grew to the extent that he needed a full-time secretary to handle the phone, the books, the payroll, and the constant typing of legal descriptions of real property. Lavonia left her then-current position with an architectural firm and became a vital part of the survey business for the next 45 years. It’s possible her ability to read the character of the numerous new clients was no less important than her other contributions (“Don’t you start that job before the retainer clears”).

With the passing of Mario C. in 2003, Lavonia persevered on her own in the same cozy little beach house that once housed a family of five, sharing sunset walks on the beach with her Pugs. Between regular attendance at the gym of Malibu Fitness and the house’s two flights of stairs, she remained very active physically. A lifelong lover of books, she was involved with several reading and poetry groups. Her daily routine of working the LA Times crossword puzzles continued into her last week.

Lavonia passed in her home, with family at hand, survived by son Mario J., daughter Marta, five grandchildren: Nora, Xia, Zarina, Ariel, Matthew, and six great-grandchildren: Earl, Waylon, Loretta, Mallory, Jonas and ….. Lavonia.

A memorial is scheduled for all friends and family on October 15, 2023, 1 pm, at the Thorne Family Farm, at 6043 Bonsall Dr, Malibu. RSVP to Ariel at