Roberta May Gibbs died in the Lewiston, Idaho, hospital on May 22, 2018, the date of her 95th birthday. She had fallen, breaking a hip, and died during the corrective surgery.
She was a native of Colorado, having been born in Gunnison to the late Raleigh and Margret Flick. She is survived by her husband, Charles Gibbs, who remains in their home in Grangeville, Idaho, and her sister, Anne Steinbeck of Gunnison, Colo. She also leaves behind a daughter, Carrie Sue Gibbs Suldovsky, Bonners Ferry, Idaho, nieces and grandchildren from the Gibbs, Flick and Steinbeck families.
Roberta attended Gunnison schools, graduating from Gunnison County High School with high marks in 1940. With the skills she had acquired in business studies, she was selected for a position as a clerk of the local draft board, where she had a responsibility of enlisting individuals in service corps for World War II.
It was during this time she met Ernest Willoughby, who was serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps. The couple married in the Community Church on his short leave from the military, and they went to his army station in California, where he was in flight training. From there he was sent overseas and was taken a German prisoner of war when his plane was shot down on his 29th mission over Germany from the U.S. air base in England.
For some time his well-being was unknown. As the war progressed, he was freed by Allied Forces that overtook Germany. He was sent to a military base in California to recuperate from the harsh German prison and where his wife, Roberta, could be near. Shortly after the Armistice was signed, he was discharged from the Air Force.
After his discharge, the couple made their first permanent home in Grass Valley, Calif, where they were both employed.
Mr. Willoughby died later, brought on by results of abuse and starvation as a prisoner of war in Germany. Roberta, as a widow for several years, used her business skills for employment. She enjoyed returning to the Gunnison country to visit with her family on the Flick Ranch on Quartz Creek and with friends in the area.
In time, Roberta met Charles Gibbs and the two were married at the Colorado Flick Ranch on Oct. 8, 1969. They made their last home in Grangeville.
Roberta held a variety of jobs throughout her life. Most recently she was employed at the Kamiah Burkhart Homes for 12 years, being given two state awards for outstanding service. Roberta also assisted Charles in his business, Kamiah Air Service, which rebuilt small aircraft, did required operating checks and maintenance until their retirement and sale of the business.
Roberta was an active member of the Order of Eastern Star and would have been honored for 50 years of membership in Feb. 2019. She was initiated in Quincy, Washington, was affiliated in Colorado, and most recently was a member of both the Kamiah and Grangeville chapters. She served as secretary of the Kamiah Eastern Star until 2015. She was Worthy Matron for two years in the Grangeville Eastern Star and was secretary for 31 years – still serving at the time of her death.
Roberta was active in the Grangeville Senior Center, serving as the secretary/treasurer at the time of her death, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Business and Professional Women. She enjoyed culinary arts and became well-known for her gifts here, also.
She was a master seamstress and did handwork, sewing quilts for newlyweds, new babies and for all relatives. Graduates received a special gift of her exquisite quilts, as did others among her wide circle of friends. She was a great letter writer, with perfect script, sending letters to several generations of family and to many friends. She is remembered as a gracious, talented woman enriching any undertaking, and who made life better for all she knew. Arrangements were under the direction of Blackmer Funeral Home, Grangeville.
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