Barbara Jean Roberts
Aug. 24, 1924-Nov. 13, 2020
Palo Alto, California
Barbara Jean Kirn Roberts passed in her sleep on 11/13/20 after 96 vibrant, full and meaningful years. She was the third of four children born to Ida Hagen and Gerald Kirn of Council Bluffs, Iowa. After earning her BA in English and Early Childhood Education at St. Olaf College, she made her way west and became a California Girl, living in Palo Alto all her married life. She was a dedicated wife, a loving mother to six, a beloved aunt to many and a trusted friend to countless people around the world.
Barbara was full of cheerful, passionate energy. She and her husband, Dr. Lester A. Roberts, built a marriage of love, respect and adventure that lasted 64 years until his death in 2013. They especially enjoyed traveling, backpacking in the Sierras, and attending concerts and the theater.
While managing a large household, Barbara tirelessly contributed to her community. She was an active member of many groups, including AFS, Mid-Peninsula Symphony League, Stanford University Women's Club, JustREAD, PEO, Samaritan Counseling Center and Grace Lutheran Church. She served as president for many of these. She volunteered hundreds of hours tutoring at-risk children and working with foreign students, taking school children to the symphony, and leading youth backpacking trips with Les. As well, she was a court-appointed advocate for children in the juvenile court system. In 2004 she was honored with the Avenidas Lifetime Achievement award.
Her personal creative delights included cooking and knitting, playing the piano and violin, flower arranging, gardening and hosting dinner parties.
She is survived by her brother Harald Kirn of Richmond, VA, her children, Susan Roberts-Manganelli (Sauro), Annie Roberts, Stephen Roberts (Cindy), Paul Roberts (Josie), Cynthia McCabe (Dan) and Jan Silk (Kevin), 12 grandchildren, one great granddaughter and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her siblings Katherine Lund and Dr. George Kirn, her daughter-in-law Jenny Roberts and her grandson GianMaria Manganelli.
You may honor her with contributions to afs.org, justreadcenters.org and the Ida Hagen Kirn Memorial Endowed Scholarship at St. Olaf College.
"Rondo for Barbara" Piano piece by Anne Roberts as a memorial to her wonderful, beautiful mother Barbara K. Roberts. View video, copy link: https://youtu.be/_CpV7x20MFE