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Baby Gloria in old-time Sebastopol.

Gloria Roberts led the historical society for many years

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A very big piece of Sebastopol’s living history has been lost with the recent death of Gloria Roberts, a Sebastopol native and retired educator who devoted her many years of retirement to the Western Sonoma County Historical Society and Museum. Roberts had been suffering from poor heath over recent months and succumbed to a major stroke on May 18, just 10 days after her 80th birthday.

Roberts served as the historical society’s board president and longtime board member and in recent years led the volunteer docent training and coordination at the museum, located in downtown Sebastopol and currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“She trained us all pretty well,” said current board president Teresa Ramondo. “Whatever we didn’t know, we would just ask Gloria. Now, we’ll have to go on without her. It won’t be the same.”

Roberts was born in Sebastopol on May 8, 1940, to parents Delbert and Georgia Triggs. Her grandfather, J. F. (John Francis) Triggs owned the town’s livery stable and bicycle shop that later became the J.F. Triggs Auto Parts. Its final location was 130 S. Main St. following several relocations through the years.

Gloria married Don Roberts and they farmed an apple ranch on Gold Ridge for many years. Gloria taught elementary school children at Twin Hills School for 30 years, before retiring to take care of her ailing mother in her final years. Gloria had two children, Scott and Carrie (Duran), and six grandchildren. She earned her master’s degree from San Francisco State, while continuing her teaching career.

“Mom was hospitalized back in October, but we were able to get her back home and she was doing the best she could,” said daughter Carrie. “She was able to celebrate her wedding anniversary on Dec. 19, and she had enough energy to receive many, many well wishes on Facebook from ex-students.”

Roberts cherished details and accuracy in all she did, both as a teacher, historian and mother. She made many visits to the Sebastopol newspaper office over the years to gently, but firmly keeping the paper’s reporting accurate in all its historical references. No doubt, she’d have a correction or two to add to this report if she could be here.

She recorded her 30-year teaching career with 30 separate scrapbooks of her students and memories which are now collected at her home with Don. She also kept hundreds, if not thousands, of letters and personal notes her daughter said.

“In her final days of hospice, she told us that she felt she had accomplished about everything she could and was satisfied,” Carrie said. “She told us she’d be OK.”

Steve Steadman knew Gloria from Sebastopol grammar school days as young students and both later became educators.

“Gloria was always after me to volunteer at the museum, but I told her I had a job,” said Steadman. “When I finally retired she said I didn’t have any more excuses so here I am.”

Steadman is one of the more regular volunteers at the museum, which houses the Triggs Research Room, full of local history books and records organized and originally curated by Roberts.

“She was tireless and really loved the work of training the docents and coordinating us. She served in just about every job and capacity we had,” said Steadman. “Her willingness to step up and do whatever needed done was amazing. It will be difficult without her.”

Mary Dodgion is another museum volunteer.

“I observed her being a docent one afternoon, and it was like having a private tour guide who really knew her subject — Sebastopol.”

Roberts’ knowledge spread well beyond the walls of the museum. In walks around town she would often share with visitors the original residents of certain houses or the names of old businesses that once lined Main Street and Bodega and Sebastopol avenues.

She and Don were longtime members of the United Methodist Church and lifetime members of the Petaluma Yacht Club. The Roberts’ traveled in their boat to Washington, Alaska and other Pacific ports. 

Her hobbies included dancing, bowling, camping, gardening, water skiing. In retirement cruising in cruise ships added to her hobby. 

Roberts was a past recipient of the Sebastopol Chamber of Commerce’s Volunteer of the Year.

She is survived by Husband Don (54) years, Daughter Carrie Roberts and Fiancé Chuck Blaylock, Son Scott Roberts, Marissa Roberts. 6 Grandchildren, Andrew, Justin, Alicia, Jacob & Joshua Roberts, and Dylan Duran. Numerous nieces and nephews. 

Due to COVID 19, a Memorial service cannot be scheduled, but the family is planning a Celebration of Life in the Fall. 

If you would like to attend, please provide your information at Mrs_carrieann@yahoo.com

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