Juanita M. Roberts
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Roberts, Juanita M. RAVENA On Sunday evening, February 7, 2016, Albany. The Angel of Mercy crept into the hospital room of Mrs. Juanita Murchison Roberts, a true Christian soldier. In His infinite wisdom and with compassionate tenderness, He closed the eyes that had seen the long vision of life, sealed the lips, folded the hands, and stopped the feet that made her last journey. He brought His servant from labor to her reward, her heavenly home. On October 1, 1936, Mrs. Roberts was born in Richmond, Va. to the late William and Dorothy Murchison. Affectionately called "Neet," a true southern belle, and a former Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) debutante, Mrs. Roberts was raised in a strong Christian home in Raleigh, N.C. Her family were members of the First Cosmopolitan Baptist Church. Growing up in the segregated school system, she attended Lucille Hunter Elementary School, Washington High School and Ligon High School. Her childhood was also filled with many trips to "the country," Murchisontown (nearby Sanford, N.C.), founded by Jack Murchison, a freeman. At age nine, she wrote letters and with her father, she went down to their local government municipality to research this historical land where some of her family still remains. Her youth continued to be nurtured and developed through many church and community activities. As many civil right movements were imitated by young persons and college students across the country, in Raleigh she became very involved and she participated in many sit-ins. Her love for God and humanity, as well as her involvement in social justice helped to strengthen her voice. In her senior year in high school, she competed in a statewide oratory contest. She was second runner-up to Charles Kuralt. As a result, she received a scholarship and she attended Hampton University, Hampton, Va., Once Mrs. Roberts returned to Raleigh, she continued her study at North Carolina Central University, Durham, N.C. As God has always had a hand on her, guiding her life, one of her childhood mentors, the Rev. Dr. Paul Johnson of historic Martin Street Baptist Church, Raleigh, contacted his colleague in Hudson, about Mrs. Roberts and referred her for a job with the New York State Division for Youth. In the 1960s she moved up north. In Hudson where she met and married her late husband, Robert F. Roberts at the Shiloh Baptist Church. Mrs. Roberts worked with the State of New York in various positions, which included counseling, teaching drama, driving instruction, and she was a New York State Certified Recreational Instructor. She was granted state aid to attend the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany's School of Public Affairs (Public Administration). Later she was granted a full scholarship by the State of New York to attend New York University's (NYU) School of Social Work. The State of New York held her position as earned her degree, and then transferred her job and home to Westchester County. She graduated from NYU and she also became a licensed New York Stated Certified Clinical Social Worker (specializing in clinical work and administration). Her downstate N.Y. activities and appointments included: Area Supervisor of the New York State Division for Youth - Westchester County N.Y., Rockland County N.Y. Office; First Minority President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Yonkers, Association of Social Workers, guest speaker at Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., and guest lecturer at the Westchester County Police Academy where she spoke on Persons in Need of Supervision (PINS) and Juvenile Delinquency. In Manhattan and the Bronx, she ran support groups for women and she really enjoyed her group Harlem at Betty Shabazz's Center. Mrs. Roberts also co-founded many community awareness workshops in White Plains, N.Y. Mrs. Roberts and her family were members of the Allen A.M.E. Church of White Plains. After working with the State of New York for a couple of decades, Mrs. Roberts retired and relocated back upstate. She became involved in her area's Meals on Wheels, Boy Scouts and she served as a Girl Scout Leader. She sat on the local Board of Directors for the town's Children's Center. Later she spent many years on the Board of Directors of Hillside House, a former residential program for persons with developmental disabilities. She was the lead force in obtaining the local senior center, Senior Projects of Ravena, was the Vice President of the Ravena Coeymans Selkirk (RCS) Senior High School's Parent Teacher Association, and she organized the RCS Sr. High School's Toys for Tots for over a decade. She worked with the RCS administration and the RCS Board of Education to provide equity in learning, helping to infuse diversity into the curriculum and school system. Mrs. Roberts loved believed in love and forgiveness. Her door was always open as a Good Samaritan. As a faithful and a diligent worker, Mrs. Roberts loved to help all people and she was a stellar fund-raiser. Also, she would make and deliver fruit and food baskets to the sick, the shut-ins, and the homeless children. For many years she was a member of the Riverview Missionary Baptist Church, Coeymans N.Y. She sung in the Henry T. Brewer Senior Choir, served as Vice President of the Missionary Board, and she was co-manager of the church's food pantry. Mrs. Roberts also assisted with the Mt. Tabor A.M.E. Zion Church, Catskill, N.Y. She briefly helped to fill their Superintendent of Sunday School position, and she was also a member of the Zionites, a traveling gospel group based out of Mt. Tabor. Mrs. Roberts helped to play piano for start-up churches and she worked with the Catholic Church in Albany on many programs. Mrs. Roberts has severed as the past president and secretary of the RCS Council of Churches and the President of the local chapter of Church Women United. Mrs. Roberts received awards and recognition as a Valiant Woman by the local and national chapter of Church Women United. For many years her local chapter of church women has been responsible for handing out scholarships to graduating seniors of the RCS district. Her hobbies included reading, opera, as well as being a sports enthusiast. She loved her Tar Heels of the University of North Carolina. Mrs. Roberts was predeceased by her late husband, Robert F. Roberts I, and her late son, Robert F. Roberts II. She leaves to mourn a daughter, Dorothea Roberts of New York, N.Y. Additionally she leaves to mourn: two sister in laws, Mrs. Elizabeth Hopkins Roberts (Gary) of Spindale, N.C., and Mrs. Annie Lucille Gantt (Leroy) of Charlotte, N.C.; three godchildren, Mr. Kimberly McKenzie (Kenneth) Smithfield, N.C., Dr. Janettarose Greene of Washington D.C., and Mr. Terrance Stevens of St. Louis, M.O.; three adopted grandchildren, Ms. Regine Martinez of Niagara, N.Y., Miss Amilliana Torres of Clifton Park and Miss Isabella Torres of Clifton Park; many special sisters, brothers, nieces, and cousins, and a host of other relatives and friends. Mrs. Roberts' Homegoing service will be held on Saturday, February 13, 2016, 12:30 p.m., at her new church home, the Grace United Methodist Church, Ravena. Visiting hours will at the church on Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Interment will at Grove Cemetery, Coeymans. An open reception will follow at Grace United Methodist Church.

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Published in Albany Times Union on Feb. 11, 2016.
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