Roberta Johnson Grimm left this life on October 2, 2017 at the age of 96, at the Nottingham Residential Health Care Facility in Jamesville, NY. Born in Kansas City, MO, Bobbie was a middle child. She met the love of her life Robert E. Grimm at Denison University, where she majored in theater arts. Bobbie and Bob began building their rich family life when he was in the Navy during World War II, with the birth of a daughter Carole on Bobbie's sister's farm in Indiana. Upon return from a tour of duty in the Pacific Robert attended Rochester Divinity School where Michael, their second child, was born.
Roberta then moved her family to Pickstown, SD to serve with Robert in his first church. In South Dakota three more daughters were born: Leslie, Marcia, and Nancy. Bobbie immersed her family in community life and began a lifelong involvement with the newly formed Church Women United as editor of ChurchWoman magazine. Bob's ministry with the interdenominational Council of Churches took the family to Huron, SD, then Erie, PA for the birth of son Mark, their 6th. Bobbie directed the Erie Playhouse Children's Theater, scripting several well-loved children's books into plays.
While Bobbie would always tell you her greatest accomplishment was her family, there were many more. A life-long learner, she trained as a Planned Parenthood and Contact telephone counselor when she and Bob moved the family to Syracuse in 1965. There Bobbie began her journey into creative spiritual expression in liturgical dance, which she explored with fluid grace well into her 90's. She formed interpretive dance groups in all of her church communities, and published an illustrated dance handbook, Meditation in Motion, in 1986. Her interest in women and spirituality followed her to Buffalo, where she attended graduate school, founded the Celebrants liturgical dance group and Wellsprings women's study cooperative, and served five years as NY state president of Church Women United, coordinating for two of those years the commemoration of World Day of Prayer in Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
Together Robert and Roberta were a team that tackled local and international social justice issues, traveling twice to Palestine and Israel for interfaith and women's peace initiatives and to Zimbabwe for the World Council of Churches conference. Their love of travel brought them to many places worldwide, and brought many to their doorstep: international students, artists, broadcasters and peacekeepers, asylum seekers and refugees. Bobbie welcomed all with an immense inclusive hospitality, and maintained relationships and correspondence throughout her life with every one. In their Buffalo home, as empty nesters, the door was open and the chairs were regularly filled with people who gave voice to peace and justice throughout their communities. Roberta was awarded Buffalo's Jim and Audrey Mang Peace Award in 2009.
Roberta is predeceased by her husband Robert, her daughter Marcia Grimm (Michael Buck) of San Francisco, CA, her sister Lois Swenson of Tucson, AZ and sister in law Mary Peterson of Milwaukee, WI. She is survived by her brother Howard E Johnson of St Augustine, FL, sister in law Marcia Shultz of St Paul, MN, and many nieces and nephews. Also her children: Carole Barnes (Edwin) of Fort Thomas, KY, Michael Grimm (Karen) of LaFayette, NY, Leslie Archer (Craig) of LaFayette, NY, Nancy Grimm (Scott Collins) of Tempe, AZ and Mark Grimm (Catherine) of Warwick, RI; 20 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren who, along with the many friends she has cultivated throughout her life, will miss her and strive always to live up to her gentle strength and gracious generosity.
Donations in Roberta's honor can be made to the church communities she actively supported: Pilgrim St Luke's in Buffalo and Plymouth United Church of Christ in Syracuse, NY. The family invites all to gather for a memorial celebration of Bobbie's life at 11 am on Saturday, December 2, 2017 at Plymouth UCC in Syracuse.