RAVENA – On Sunday evening, February 7, 2016, Albany, N.Y., 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, V.A. 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
Her childhood was also filled with many trips to “the country,”
Murchisontown (nearby Sanford, N.C.), founded by Jack Murchison, a
freeman. At age 9, 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, V.A., 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, N.C., contacted his colleague in Hudson, N.Y. 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
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, N.Y. 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 N.Y 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
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
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)
of 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, N.Y. and Miss Isabella Torres of Clifton
Park, N.Y.; 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 pm, at her new church home, the Grace United
Methodist Church, Ravena, N.Y. Visiting hours will at the church on
Saturday from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. Interment will at Grove
Cemetery, Coeymans, N.Y. An open reception will follow at Grace
United Methodist Church.