Joan Roberts

Joan Marie (Schultz) Roberts burst into the world Oct. 29, 1937, one of five siblings and the eldest daughter of Russell and Nellie Schultz.
Born between two boys, brother Max and brother Sam, she was more tomboy than princess, scorning dolls and playing house for outdoor play and athletic endeavors. Baseball became her passion leading her to become an outstanding member of the local women’s softball team and an avid, lifelong Cubs fan. She was also quite accomplished on the coronet and often shared her gift at school, church and community events.
Joan’s strong faith and walk with God began early. In high school she became a leader of her church youth group and was involved with church youth gatherings at both the state and national level.
With three younger siblings, Joan was always a nurturer, looking after, guiding and helping her younger brother and sisters. So, upon high school graduation from A. J. Kent High School in Kentland, Ind., her decision to attend Maryville College in Maryville, Tenn., and to major in elementary education was natural. There she met the love of her life, Will Roberts.
After marrying and finishing their educational degrees, they settled in South Bend, Ind., to teach and raise a family. Although their first son, David, died in infancy, he was soon followed by four healthy, active, fun-loving siblings: identical twin girls, Valerie and Cindy, then Pam and Dan.
With a household of little ones and later a classroom of third graders, Joan’s nurturing instincts blossomed. She became known for her innovative and creative teaching methods as she guided student after student to read, to write, to love themselves  and to love learning. A hands-on mother, her nurturing allowed her own children to blossom confident, talented and loving. As mother, grandmother, aunt, teacher, she was always ready with a story to read, a tale to tell, a game to play, a hug to reassure or a heart to listen.
After almost 20 years in the teaching field, Joan and Will chose to make a career change and invested in an extended family endeavor in Custer, S.D., owning and operating two restaurants and a motel. As manager of the motel, Joan once again put her nurturing and people skills to work as she trained employees, catered to customers needs and oversaw the everyday operations of the business. Although she was a bit of a task master, her employees loved her, with many becoming lifelong friends; and her repeat business spoke volumes for her customer service.
Joan was a woman of grit. Her siblings often compared her to the small but feisty Bantam rooster!
Small in stature, she was mighty and unwavering in her faith, her values, her way of doing things and her love. Although her resoluteness could be exasperating sometimes, you always knew where you stood with Joan: Even if you were doing it wrong or had it wrong in her eyes, she loved you anyway!
That same grit she had for life served her well as she struggled with respiratory challenges her last 20 years. Through the many and culminating challenges she faced, she continued to live a full life, participating in her community, her church and family activities. Even when finally confined to home, she loved entertaining friend and family company, continued to manage her household and maintained her birthday card ministry for her church.
Love of Family honed the baker in Joan. As she explored creative ways to connect with the people she loved or appreciated, culinary pursuits became a passion. Eventually, she became friend/family famous for her toffee, scones, chocolate cake donuts, and gourmet coffee. Every extended family child knew you could get a great meal at Aunt Joan’s; and anyone who touched her life, in even some small way, was often rewarded in toffee or scone appreciation. Maybe you have been one of those souls.
God calls us to love Him and to love others, and Joan did. She never wavered in her faith, but always chose to focus on her many blessings rather than the many challenges. She always trusted in God’s presence and promise and shared all that she could with those around her.
Commitment and love were the hallmarks of her amazing 65-year marriage to Will. Unconditional love for her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, siblings, friends and even sometimes strays filled her home. Her doors and arms were never closed. She will always be remembered as wife, mother, and grandma extraordinaire!
Joan died Oct. 4, 2023. She was 85.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her brother, Max Schultz; her son, David; her daughter, Valerie Reidenbach; and her grandson, Joshua Caster.
Joan is survived by her husband, Willard Roberts; four children, Cindy (Joe) Kelly, Pamela Woods, and Daniel (Jodie) Roberts;  son-in-law, Scott Reidenbach; three siblings,  Sam Schultz, Sandra (Joe) McFarland and Sharon Jones; 10 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
A memorial service will be held Oct. 29 at 3 p.m. in Rapid City, S.D., at Westminster Church.

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