Marion Elizabeth Roberts transitioned January 25. After 97 years, she now resides eternally with her God and her ancestors.
Roberts was the only child of Mr. Charles Albert and Mrs. Cleo Geraldine Scott, who migrated to Chicago from Topeka, Kansas, more than 100 years ago.
Roberts grew up on the south side, living for a time on the 4300 block of Langley, then on West 115 Street. where her parents built a home just before the Great Depression. She attended local public schools and Morgan Park High School. Then in 1940, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison and pledged to the AKA sorority, Beta chapter in Chicago.
For several years Roberts worked with youth in the YWCAs of Philadelphia and Chicago, before marrying Walter Roberts Sr., whom she met while at University of Wisconsin. They moved to Tuskegee, Alabama where her husband was stationed as a Signal Corps Officer during WW II. Her husband was also an only child, so having a family with children was very important to them. Their first child (Walter Jr.) was born in the base hospital.
After the war they returned to Chicago to start new careers and grow their family. Roberts began her 30+ year teaching career in the Chicago Public Schools as a Physical Education teacher at Carver Park High School. A second son (Scott) was born while they lived in Altgeld Gardens, block #1. A few years later they bought their first home in Morgan Park on West 111 Place. Roberts and her husband’s only daughter (Marybeth) and youngest son (Robin) got their starts there. In 1961, the family, along with Roberts’s widowed mother (Cleo Scott) and widowed aunt (Mrs. Ruth Mingo), moved into a Kenwood home on Ellis Avenue, thus gaining the traditional family advantages of an inter-generational household.
Like her parents, Roberts, was a devout Episcopalian, and an active member of St.Edmunds parish. For many years Roberts served on the Social Services Guild of her church. Her parents, were also founding members of the Church of the Holy Cross (Episcopal) in Morgan Park, where her children started their religious education.
Throughout those years, Roberts was a well-regarded “3-R’s” teacher in various public elementary schools on the south side. Roberts and Walter always kept a clean, safe, welcoming home full of books and crafts for the family, friends, and neighbors. On many occasions they hosted international students for months at a time. Guests came from Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Viet Nam, Germany, Iraq, and Iran. Roberts made sure her children were involved in various community activities such as Chicago Park District programs, the Girls Scouts and Boys Scouts or the Major and Minors (a local, family-oriented cultural, club of the late ‘50s through ‘70s). She was kind, fun loving and enjoyed Broadway musicals, all forms of dance, a good laugh, eating, and house parties.
Since the early ‘60s Roberts volunteered with and supported many other causes that help people in need, justice, promote justice, peace, equal opportunity, and uplift the human spirit such as the NAACP, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Southside Friends of the Chicago Sinfonietta, UNICEF, Doctors w/o Borders, and the Rev. Dr. M.L. King Jr. Memorial (in D.C.). She served as one of the original Board of Directors for the Harris YWCA. She was a fervent believer in voting, nonviolent demonstration and being informed and active. In two chance meetings at her health club nine years ago she met, hugged, and gave words of encouragement to a young, aspiring Senator Barak Obama.
In her high school days Roberts and a dozen friends started two social and bridge clubs: The Amigas and Les Belles. She last played cards with friends in late 2014. Roberts enjoyed traveling by camper, train, and airplane. In the late ‘70s, Roberts and her husband traveled to Mexico with their daughter and a granddaughter. Less than 10 years ago she took a cruise ship to Ireland with two childhood girlfriends, both named Roberts. In 2004, Roberts toured the California Coast Route 1 by sports car with her youngest son.
Roberts moved into the Montgomery Place Senior Residential building in 2010. After a head injury in November 2014 which prompted a decline in her health she moved to the nursing floor there.
In her final days she gave blessings to her children, and let it be known she was ready to “release” and go “home” to “Jesus.” Roberts’s spirit ascended while holding hands with her son Scott and daughter-in-law Blanche.
Roberts was preceded in death by her husband Walter Alston Roberts Sr., also of Chicago.
Roberts is survived by her four children and their spouses: Walter A. (Sheila) Roberts Jr., C. Scott (Blanche) Roberts, Marybeth Morgan (Ralph) Mayo, Robin Lance (Pamela) Roberts, eight grand children (Jasamyn, Walter III, Rhina, Geoffrey, Myel, Tomas, Alexis, Scotty), and eight great-grandchildren (Nathan, Bryce, Skyler, Jordan, Zion, Mateo, and Zoe ), also a close cousin, Grant Venerable.
A Memorial Service celebrating Roberts’s life will be held at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, April 16 at St. Edmunds Church, 6101 S. Michigan Ave. Roberts’s pastor, the Rev. Richard Tolliver will preside. A reception will follow in the perish hall. A family visitation at 9:30 a.m. and an AKA Ivy Beyond the Wall Ceremony will precede the 10:30 a.m. service.
In lieu of flowers we ask that you send donations in Roberts’s honor to the Southside Friends of the Chicago Sinfonietta (http://www.chicagosinfonietta.org/get-involved/friends-groups/).
Condolences may be sent c/o The Roberts Family, 5468 S. Blackstone Ave. Chicago, IL 60615.
The Roberts Family would like to extend our sincere thanks and appreciation for all the years of wonderful care and professional concern for our mother/grandmother by the general staff, servers, caregivers, aides, nurses and doctors of Home Instead Senior Care (south), the University of Chicago Hospital & Coordinated Care Program, and the Montgomery Place Retirement Community.