By Lasca Randels
WARSAW — A drive-by parade was held Sunday, Feb. 28, to celebrate the 80th birthday of retired North Webster Elementary school teacher Phyllis Roberts.
The parade took place at Warsaw Meadows where Roberts, who is struggling with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, resides.
Participants lined up in the old Marsh parking lot prior to the event. Roberts was brought outside by Warsaw Meadows staff to enjoy the parade
Friends, family members and former students drove through the facility’s parking lot, waving at Roberts and honking their horns.
Roberts retired after teaching third grade at North Webster Elementary School for 36 years.
She grew up in Sidney and was salutatorian of her graduating class in high school. She attended Manchester College and graduated from Grace College with a degree in elementary education, obtaining her Master’s in education from St. Francis University.
Roberts had the extreme honor of being baptized by Reverend Billy Graham in Winona Lake.
Originally, Roberts planned to teach high school English; however, she discovered a love of working with elementary students while coaching little league one summer.
She met and married Earl Roberts of Syracuse and moved to North Webster, where she lived until going to Warsaw Meadows.
They have one daughter, Wende, who resides in North Webster.
Earl was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and fought a 21-year battle before entering his eternal home on May 16, 2010. During that time, Phyllis Roberts worked additional jobs to help with the medical bills. One of those jobs included the local grocery store’s deli counter. Always ready to help and brighten the customers’ day, she worked at the deli for many years.
After Roberts retired from teaching at the North Webster Elementary School, she stepped back into the classroom in a new way, where she was known lovingly as “Mrs. Phyllis.”
Roberts and her daughter, Wende, also a Grace College grad and elementary school teacher, opened their own Christian Preschool and Academy in North Webster in 2005. The Son Shine Preschool offered a large variety of programs for students of all ages, including a community drama troupe, a children’s choir and tutoring services. Roberts and her daughter ran the school together for 15 years, before COVID resulted in the programs being placed on a temporary hiatus.
Roberts was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease after an unfortunate fall at a short-term care facility resulted in a hip replacement; the anesthesia from the surgery, along with major complications, unmasked the Alzheimer’s that is now in the severe category.
Wende describes her mother as “always having a helping hand and a warm cheery smile, not knowing a stranger and making all feel welcome. Her strong faith in the Lord has been her testimony and even now that sweet peace is still present. Phyllis has had the opportunity to touch and greatly impact so many lives through the years. Thank you for all of the love you have shown her.”