Congregational Register No. 219
First Profession 08.09.1951
Aged: 83 years
Roberta Smith was born in Falkirk, Scotland, but was raised from the age of seven in northern England. She never lost her lovely Scottish accent though. She was the fifth of six daughters, one of whom became a doctor. Three became teachers, and Roberta, or Royella as she was known in her family, became a pharmacist, following in her father’s footsteps. He had trained as an analytical chemist.
Roberta was working as the manageress of a chemist shop before she joined MMM in 1949. Following first profession in 1951 she was assigned to Anua in Nigeria. She worked as the pharmacist there and in Afikpo and Obudu and again in Anua until 1959. In later years she spent many happy hours telling her family and friends about her experiences in the Nigeria of the 1950’s.
In April 1959 she was sent back to Ireland in ill health. After treatment she made a remarkable recovery. She spent a further three years in Ireland, helping wherever she was asked – with promotion work, postulants in Clonmel and in the pharmacy in the IMTH. By April 1963 she was given the all clear and was able to return to Africa. She was assigned to Kitovu Hospital in Uganda, where the living conditions and climate would be easier for her than in Nigeria. Sr. Roberta stayed there for the next seven years, until chronic health problems made it necessary for her to return again to Ireland.
Sr. Roberta worked in the pharmacy in Drogheda for a year before going to England after the death of one of her sisters. She stayed until 1973 to help care for another sister who was an invalid. For the remainder of the 1970’s, Roberta served in promotion work, in the magazine office, and as part of the mission awareness team.
In 1983, Sr. Roberta was assigned to Chicago to continue mission awareness work and fund-raising. She stayed until 1987, when recurring health problems necessitated returning to Ireland. She continued to work part-time in the IMTH in the pharmacy, records and personnel offices and then in the MMM Archives. Roberta also worked in the stamp department and helped in the sacristy until she suffered a stroke in 2004. She moved to Áras Mhuire, where the skill and kindness of the staff helped sustain her during the difficult moments. She died a year later, slipping peacefully away, surrounded by staff and many MMMs.
Though Roberta struggled with ill health for many years she had a positive outlook, a pleasant personality and a quiet sense of humour. She had great organisational skills and a lot of enthusiasm for whatever she was doing. Roberta had many interests, including photography, history, classical music and bridge. She was clever with her fingers, creating beautiful tapestry, embroidery and crochet work.