Roberta Jean Collett
May 11, 1930 – Oct. 25, 2019
Roberta Jean Collett, age 89, passed away at home in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on October 25, 2019. The daughter of Robert Joseph Wilson, and his wife, Dorothy Henrietta A. Bohning, Roberta was born on May 11, 1930 in St. Louis, Missouri. She is survived by Hugh Lawson Collett, her devoted husband of 67 years, her brother, Robert John Wilson, M.D. and his wife Beatrice, and her four children, Robert Hugh Collett and his wife Teresa, Donna Collett Denham, Dorothy Collett Vanegas and her husband Carlos, and Thomas Walter Collett and his wife Carolina. Ten grandchildren, Robert (Megan) Collett, Jr., Christina (Kevin) Krautbauer, Laura (Lucas) Forcella, Meghan Denham, Scott (Taryn) Denham, Kelly Denham, Nicole (Colby) Porter, Andres (Rebecca) Vanegas, Daniel Concha Rengifo, and Thomas Collett, and eleven great-grandchildren also survive her. Many beloved nieces and nephews, and her lifelong friend, Joan O’Neal, will also greatly miss her.
Roberta and Hugh met while working at Emerson Electric. After Hugh’s new employee exam, the company doctor told Roberta, who worked in personnel, “That’s a good guy. Keep your eyes on him, and get him if you can.” She took the doctor’s advice and in her final days, almost seventy years later, entertained the family by singing “I love Hugh a bushel and a peck” from her hospital bed.
She was committed to the success of her husband and family. Roberta and Hugh even cut short their honeymoon weekend so Hugh could successfully complete exams at the end of his first semester of St. Louis University. Hugh went on to a successful career in human resources and mediation, taking the family briefly to Arkansas and for a more extended time to Oklahoma.
While Roberta adapted to wherever she was, her heart was always in Missouri, and that is where she and Hugh retired. The couple moved to Minnesota in the final few years of their life together, after Hugh was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, to be closer to Bob and Teresa, their eldest son and his wife.
Grandchildren recall that she valued education, “didn’t take excuses,” and always made sure that every child had what they needed (plus some). The family farm near Farmington, Missouri, with its fishing pond and natural woods was her favorite place on earth. It was the place where she and Hugh taught grandchildren to fish and hosted Christmas celebrations and family fireworks displays on July 4th for many years.
In 1980, Roberta returned to school, earning her associates’ degree in accounting at Rose State University in Oklahoma City. Like her mother who had served as city tax collector for Berkley, Missouri, Roberta used her accounting degree first to help small businesses, and then as a field agent for the Internal Revenue Service.
A few years prior to her death, after talking about family history, Roberta concluded “I hope all of you know how much I’ve loved you over the years and I only hope that the grandkids [and great-grandkids] will have as good a life as all of us have had. The Collett family, whether as a Collett in name or not, the Collett family will keep growing.”
A faithful Catholic, with a special devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Roberta recited the rosary and attended daily mass regularly in the final years of her life. After a recent hospitalization, she assured one granddaughter that she knew she was going to a better place. A funeral mass is scheduled at St. Paul Catholic Church, 15 Forest Knoll Dr., Fenton, Missouri on Friday, November 15, 2019 at noon, and internment of her ashes at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, 2900 Sheridan Road, St. Louis, Missouri will occur that afternoon at 1:45 p.m.
Memorial donations may be made to the St. Louis Society for the Blind and Visually Impaired, https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/1440244 or to the Alzheimer’s Association through the tribute page established in her name at https://act.alz.org/site/TR/Events/Tributes-AlzheimersChampions?pg=fund&fr_id=1060&pxfid=599404 .
As matriarch of the Collett family, she will be remembered forever.