Roberta, known to most of her friends as Bobbi, was born in the Bronx in New York City, the daughter of Al Farkas and Florence Altchiler. She passed peaceably, without pain, but with unaccustomed weakness "into the light," at White Sands-La Jolla's Health Center|
She is survived by her husband, Paul Whitby, a retired airline captain; sister, Sunni Farkas; brother, Richard Farkas; daughter, Karen Merker and her son, Jonathan Merker; and two grandchildren, Jane and Max Ballard.
Bobbi attended City College of NY and graduated in three years with a degree in English and Phi Beta Kappa honors.
She moved to Philadelphia after having her daughter, Karen, and obtaining her Master's degree. In Philadelphia she had her son, Jonathan; participated in the women's equal rights movement; and helped install an alternative school. She moved to San Diego in 1977.
In 1994 she married Paul Whitby. They had 20 blissful years enjoying almost everything together from pursuing spiritual knowledge, spiritual circle dancing, to hiking and camping out together in the mountains, and enjoying symphony concerts, plays and opera.
She was a talented painter, not only traditional art, but painted a large 8 by 12 foot mural of a scene from Torrey Pines Reserve on the house. She had volunteered there as a docent for 11 years and had been awarded the badge as a lifetime docent. Bobbi won several ribbons exhibiting her art at the county fair and San Diego Water Color Society. She grew a garden and many friends were invited and enjoyed Bobbi's famous vegetarian dinners.
She taught English as a second language for many years in San Diego to waves of refugees and other immigrants at the San Diego Community College District. She gained a reputation of teaching English to those who did not even read and write in their own language.
Her love of nature led her and her husband to the Sierra Club, hiking and camping. They volunteered and were trained as Trail Guides at Mission Trails Regional Park leading nature walks. But she came down with cancer and only participated briefly.
In addition, they delivered Meals on Wheels to La Jolla residents for five years and became acquainted with beautiful elderly people. They were also members of San Diego Playback Theater Company for seven years, performing all over San Diego County. She loved to dance, especially with a spiritual motive. There were Sufi circle dances of Universal Peace. She hosted spiritually oriented dance classes in their home.
Bobbi and Paul regularly stayed at 640 acre Questhaven Retreat Center. When a wildfire known as the Questhaven Fire decimated most of the chaparral and a few trees and houses, they went there to help clean up the charred wood. As they raked around the church they noticed that the Church of the Holy Quest was untouched even though the fire had burned up to the foundation. Bobbi and Paul each planted a pine tree in the restoration. They would visit them often.
They started going to Questhaven more regularly and started attending the church. They were delighted because they learned a series of circle dances, Dance of the Soul, that were known as Pan-Eu-Rhythmy.
Bobbi and Paul moved to the White Sands-La Jolla retirement community after selling their home of 20 years together in Pacific Beach in November 2013. After about three weeks there, having the best treatment possible, she was again diagnosed as having lymphatic cancer in the spine which was practically incurable. She requested only palliative care. Her stated desire that she said many times to Paul and others was, "I want to go into the light." He said, "If you really, really want to go, then go with my blessing."
What else can you say if you really love someone?
She left her body the next day, January 7, 2014, after living a magnificent and accomplished life on earth.
Bobbi, I'm sure that you got your wish.
Her cremated remains were scattered at Torrey Pines after a short ceremony on February 12, 2014.
If desired, donations may be made in Bobbi's memory to Torrey Pines Docent Society at Torreypine.org or to Questhaven Retreat Center, 20560 Questhaven Road, San Marcos, CA 92078.
Published in La Jolla Light on Feb. 27, 2014