Paula Robinson Bennett, also known as Fifi, Shuggy, P and Lala, died peacefully at the age of 71 on March 19 at Denver Hospice. Foodie, fashionista, force of nature, and life of the party, Paula was ever eager to entertain with a tale or two.
Her story began in Clarksville, Texas, on August 3, 1946, the oldest child and only girl of Tillie and Eddie Mac. Paula grew up in Austin, Texas, where the charismatic beauty was celebrated as Head Cheerleader, Homecoming Princess and Football Sweetheart at Lanier High School––and also where she would sneak into blues bars with her friend, Nancy. Growing up, she enjoyed family times such as water skiing and camping (her brothers, Mark and Tim, swear this is true) and also a bit of adventure in Avery at her Big Mama’s and Nanny’s. Paula especially loved those summers when Big Mama would send her out to deliver laundry and she’d tear her way around the country roads in a red Chevy sedan, long before she had her license.
Paula attended the University of Tennessee, and then moved to North Carolina, where she made life-long friends and memories. As her good friend Melanie says, “We’d start out the evening with a plan, knowing it would go to the wee hours, but things often took a surprising turn, and we all have stories to tell.” Between modeling stints in New York, Paula was the North Carolina National Bank BankAmericard representative, visiting businesses in a “designed for 1969” blue and gold suit, driving a gold station wagon, convincing customers to use the newest thing—credit cards.
Paula moved to Denver in the late 1970s and began to develop her interior design business, first with Gary Henderson, her partner at DesignHaus; and then owner of Paula Bennett Interior Design, including a time when she owned Milieu, a storefront and gallery on Broadway, where she and her friend Connie greeted the throngs of art lovers on First Friday, with Rusty and her brother Mark tending bar. Described as intuitive, intelligent, irrepressible and often irreverent by her clients and friends, Paula brought creativity, color and vitality to every project, taking pride in her role as designer and the professional recognition she received throughout her career.
Paula loved parties, and knew how to make an entrance at any affair. She had a never-ending love of people, conversation, music, art, food, wine and animals. She knew better than anyone how to combine these gifts on a summer evening, when she could be found on her patio bursting with plants and color, enjoying life to the fullest with music playing, a martini in her hand, surrounded by friends and enjoying the tomatoes that Bob grew in the garden.
Paula is survived by her partner, Robert Bunch; brothers Mark (Sheri) Robinson of Knoxville, Tenn. and Tim (Janine) Robinson of Richardson, Tex.; nieces Amber (Brian) Robinson Osborne of Jacksonville, Fla., Katie Robinson of Nashville, Tenn., and Lauren Robinson of Dallas, Tex.; and great nieces Ella Osborne and Ava Osborne.
Special thanks to the staff at the University of Colorado Cancer Center–Anschutz and The Denver Hospice for their unparalleled care and compassion.
A Celebration of Life was held in Denver on Saturday, April 28 at Design Wright Studio.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Paula’s name
The Denver Hospice or