Roberta Schaffer was born Roberta Jean Blackwood to Harold and Beryl Blackwood on July 13, 1945 in Bremerton. She spent her childhood in Bremerton before moving to Seattle when she was 12. She graduated from Mount Rainier High School in 1963 and attended the University of Washington before graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Central Washington University. She then went on to earn a master’s degree in counseling. She worked for many years in the public schools of the Puget Sound region as a counselor, a career that made her a passionate advocate for youth and the importance of investing in public education.
Roberta moved to Bainbridge Island in 2006 and here formed many close and lasting friendships which gave her joy and sustained her through some difficult times. She was a person who delighted in and cultivated friendships.
Roberta loved to travel. At 22 she went to Australia with a girlfriend and worked there for a year as an au pair. In later years she enjoyed long-dreamed-of trips to Paris and to central and northern Italy. But really any excursion could spark enthusiasm in Roberta: she loved to be on the road and heading off somewhere, especially with a carload of friends.
In her middle years Roberta took up painting. She had a keen eye for color, texture and design. After moving to Bainbridge Island she attended a private class that painted for most of one day every week in Poulsbo. She focused on abstract painting, which challenged her and drew upon her reflective, questing side. She was always searching in her painting, an activity that seemed to accommodate and give voice—like travel—to the restlessness that was part of her spirit.
Roberta died of cancer on November 21, 2018. She is survived by her sister, Carol Crow-Costner, and her two brothers, Richard Blackwood and Kenneth Blackwood, as well as by numerous nieces and nephews. Her friends and family will remember Roberta’s elegance, sociability and empathy, as well as her courage in the face of adversity. We will miss her sparkling, smiling blue eyes; her porcelain skin; her stylishly cut, beautiful short white hair; her love of fashion and style; and her delight in occasion. We will miss our long conversations with her, which almost always included, even in her last days, gaiety and laughter.