Gina Crumbliss and Robyn Thomas have been best friends for 29 years. Separately, they live very full lives – Gina is president and CEO of the Chattanooga Food Bank and a “Gigi” to four grandchildren, while Robyn, a senior vice president at SouthEast Bank, is one of four generations living on an Arabian horse farm in North Georgia. Together, they’ve experienced raising kids, changing careers, losing family members, and traveling to cities near and far. A self-proclaimed package deal, this pair is full of laughs, love, and the utmost respect for one another. Read on to learn how Gina and Robyn prioritize their inspiring, heartfelt friendship.
Photos by Lanewood Studio
HS What makes your friendship work?
GC Honesty, giving grace, and at some point, you just have to agree to disagree. We never let a difference of opinion ruin everything else that’s good about our friendship.
RT I also think there’s this weird energy that happens – it’s palpable and electric. It’s more than just finishing each other’s sentences too, although we have been known to do that.
GC We worked together for a while and were always on the same wavelength, like we were sharing a brain. She’d shout, “Hey, did you …?” And I’d reply, “Yes!” before she finished her thought. It drove our co-workers crazy.
HS What trait do you most admire in each other?
GC Robyn loves hard. Whatever she cares about, whether it’s her family, her friends, her animals – she gives it 100%.
RT For Gina, it’s loyalty. No one has my back like she does, through thick and thin. Gina’s loyalty and love are gifts that I’ve been given, and I’ve never experienced it in my life with anyone else.
HS Between jobs and family life, you’re very busy ladies. How do you stay close?
RT I believe it’s essential to carve out time and be intentional. You can’t allow life to get in the way too much. We love to go on trips together and just make memories.
GC If I see something that’s funny that I know will make Robyn laugh, or if I come across a health article that her mom might like, I take advantage of those times with a call or text. It says I’m thinking about you, and I want to share this with you.
HS In honor of our New Year issue, what healthy habits do you hope to adopt in 2020?
RT Mine will be consistently working out – either hiking, going to the gym, or riding my horses – three to four times a week.
GC I hope to be intentional about listening to what my body is saying. If I need to take a day off from exercise, I will. I’ve learned over the years that it’s not about being a certain dress size; it’s about being strong and honoring your body.
RT Self-acceptance is so important. It’s hard to do when you’re younger, to realize you’re enough. You have to be okay with yourself, and everything else can fall into place after that. HS