Frances Whitaker RobertsMarch 13, 1927 ~ October 16, 2017 (age 90)
Frances Whitaker Roberts has died. Frances was 90 years old. She joins her husband, Charles T. Roberts, whom she lost in 2009, and her youngest daughter, Jenny Lynn Roberts, whom she lost in 1983. She is survived by her son, Charles T. Roberts, Jr., and her daughters, Dana Roberts, Lisa Roberts, and Anna Roberts; their spouses, respectively, Lisa Talbot Roberts, Joe Miller, Peter Rehon, and Dan Wesolowski; and her grandchildren, Christopher Roberts, David Roberts, Cecelia Roberts, Noe Roberts, Anya Rehon, Nick Rehon, and Brendan Rehon. Frances’s motherly love also extended to Dixie Roberts, Jeff Ferrari and his family, and Chris Bogen.
Frances was a woman of intelligence, beauty, grace, and immense depth and talent. This was shown consistently in her love of her family and friends and devotion to her community, but perhaps its greatest demonstration was in her poetry. The words of her craft flowed like liquid from her heart and mind through her fingers to her written page. Her work, imaginative and complex while remaining always accessible, was a gift to whoever read it, whether expert poets or readers less familiar with the art form. It was presented in numerous publications, including her book of poetry Flame from the Rock published by Jacaranda Press in 1993 and in other publications featuring her poems and short stories including cæsura published in 2004, An Anthology of Poems published 2011, and Song of Los Gatos published in 2014. The last was dedicated to her by its editor and publisher Parthenia M. Hicks, the first poet laureate of the Town of Los Gatos. Frances has earned additional recognition for her work by the International Kiyoshi and Kiyoko Tokutomi Memorial Haiku Center from whom she received an award for her haiku, by poet Robert Bly and other writers with whom she studied, and through her much-sought-after presence at poetry readings where audiences enjoyed her work spoken in her sweet Southern accent.
Frances was born the only child of William and Bessie Whitaker on March 13, 1927, in Siloam, Georgia, and raised in Sandersville, Georgia. She successfully pestered her parents to allow her to start school a year early, and she graduated from high school at age 16, working full-time the last year. After high school, without her mother’s knowledge, Frances took flying lessons and earned her diploma for soloing in a Piper Cub. She was hired by Western Union and traveled to Western Union stations across Georgia. It was on one of those trips to Cedartown, Georgia that, at age 19, she met her future husband, Charles, whom she married three years later, on her birthday.
Frances and Charles were married for 60 years by the time of Charles’s death, and they had a rich, brave, and loving life together. After the birth of their fourth child in Marietta, Georgia, Charles was transferred from Lockheed Marietta to Lockheed Sunnyvale, a profound move away from his and Frances’s generations-long roots in the South, their families, and their history, to a new life in a new land and the birth of their fifth child. They built their dream home, Wieuca, in Los Gatos. Their house, the surrounding woods, the view of the Valley, the flora and the fauna, as well as the many animals and pets they brought to their home, were a constant source of joy for them and poetic inspiration for Frances.
Frances earned her Associate of Arts degree from West Valley College, starting college after two of her children had themselves left for college and while three were still at home. She continued her studies at San Jose State University; and in 1997, she obtained her EfM from the School of Theology of the University of the South, after completion of its four-year program accredited by the Episcopal Church. She was a long-active member of numerous organizations, holding, among other positions, Vice-President, member of the Board of Directors, and Event Chairperson of the San José Poetry Center; Director of the Los Gatos-Saratoga Pan American Round Table; Chair of the Friends of the San José Poetry Center; Chairperson of the Montalvo Writing Group; member of the Literary Arts Committee of the Montalvo Arts Center; and Host of the Los Gatos Open Mic Series at Borders Bookshop.
Frances contributed her time and resources to many causes and charities, including Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church, the Echo Shop, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Salvation Army, the Audubon Society, Cancer Federation, Women’s Health Network, Farm Workers, DNC, DCCC, Al Franken, and many others. She and Charles traveled extensively including to over 30 countries and all but three of the 50 states of the Union.
Friends and family are invited to a celebration of her life on October 28, 2017 at 4:30 pm at the home of her daughter, Lisa, at 78 Alpine Avenue, Los Gatos, California.
Anyone wishing to honor Frances’s memory could and should give to the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League, or your local public library, all of whom will miss her generosity and passionate voice.