Robbie Nell VanCleave Makous

Published 4:43 pm Saturday, June 4, 2016

Robbie Nell (Shanklin) VanCleave Makous passed away June 2, 2016, from a long and courageous battle with congestive heart failure.

She is preceded in death by her mother, Idis Adealia, father Irvin Allen, and first husband, Robert.

She is survived by her loving and beloved husband, Walter; son, Don (Elaine) VanCleave of Nashville, Tennessee; daughters, Sondra (Lee) Tate of Benton, and Terrie (Patrick) Hutto of Tallahassee, Florida; step sons James Makous of San Diego, California, and Matthew Makous of Austin, Texas; step daughter Ann Makous of Badger Mountain, Washington; grandchildren, Brian (Julie) Tate of Denver, Colorado, Robert (Elizabeth) Tate of Youngsville, North Carolina, Sam (Rachel) Tate of Statesboro, Georgia, Benjamin Hutto of Nashville, Tennessee, and John Patrick Hutto of Tallahassee, Florida; granddaughters Rachel (Derrick) Anderson of New York, New York, Allison VanCleave of Maderas, Nicaragua, and Hannah Grace VanCleave of New York, New York; and great-grandson, Carter Tate of Denver, Colorado; and many dear friends.

Robbie, known to many as Nana, devoted her life to the happiness and welfare of others and to adding to the beauty in the world, which she did through her singing and her skill as a hair stylist. Robbie was born in rural Weakley County Tennessee on June 22, 1933. She claimed she got her middle name, Nell, from the family mule. As a teenager, she was a member of a trio with a weekly radio program featuring gospel music, and her distinctive alto voice graced an enormous number of weddings and funerals. Throughout her life she was first to help friends in need, and she was widely known as a ready source of wise counsel and delicious cooking.

She and her first husband, Robert “Hootie” VanCleave, lived in Huntington, Tennessee, Macon, Georgia, Meridian, Mississippi, and Selma, where she worked in and managed hair salons and cosmetic boutiques. After her husband died in 1998, she lived in Selma, Birmingham, and Tallahassee, Florida. In 2010, through an online service, she met Dr. Walter Makous (a Yankee from Rochester, NY), fell in love a second time, married him, and they moved together to Birmingham, where they have led a happy life ever since. Everywhere she lived she left behind a wide circle of friends. She was loved and admired by all who knew her; her passing impoverishes us all.

Friends may call at 1 p.m. on Monday, June 6 at Church Street United Methodist Church in Selma, located at 214 Church Street. Her funeral service will be held at 2 p.m., immediately following visitation. Interment will be in New Live Oak Cemetery with Selma Funeral home directing.

In lieu of sending flowers, please consider sending a contribution the St. Jude Hospital for Children, (

For more information, or to sign Robbie’s online guestbook, please visit: