Verona Roberts, 97, passed away at Mapleton Community Home on Thursday, August 3, after suffering a stroke. Until then, she had been enjoying good health and a full, engaging life.
Born October 4, 1925, to Leo and Rosa Schwanke on a farm near Willow Creek, Verona was delivered by her grandmother, Ernestina “Mutti” Kietzer, before the doctor arrived to bring her two sisters, Viola and Violet, into the world. A month premature, the triplets survived their first days bundled together near the kitchen’s wood-burning stove for warmth. Despite their tenuous start, all went on to lead full adult lives. The family belonged to St. John’s Lutheran Church, the center of a little German-American farming community near Vernon Center, and the children attended its parochial school.
In 1943, Verona married Lyle Roberts of Mankato and their first child was born the following year. The young family lived briefly in Jasper, Minnesota, following Lyle’s teaching career, before settling in Mankato in the late 1940s. There, four more children were born, spread out every four to six years, and later followed by a steady stream of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A stay-at-home mom, Verona was an excellent cook, a talent she picked up from her mother and passed on to her children.
Outside of the home, Verona was active in her church and its women’s auxiliary, was a DFL volunteer during campaigns, and served as an election judge for decades. She loved playing cards with friends and family—always willing to take a flyer in Bridge, Buck or 500. She had a deep religious faith, but kept it private. Throughout her life, Verona never liked seeing people treated unfairly or shunned for being different. The feeling was deeply-rooted and grew out of the troubling anti-German sentiment she and her German-American community witnessed during WWII. Later in life, when seeing others unjustly excluded, for whatever reason, she made a point of reaching out and making them feel welcomed. She was just a very sweet lady.
When Lyle died in 1986, Verona entered a new phase of life. Completely on her own for the first time, she made new friends and began to travel more. In 2006, she moved from her west Mankato home of 54 years to Willowbrook Senior Living where she resided for 13 years. After a brief stay in assisted living, she moved to Mapleton Community Home in 2020.
Verona’s great joy was being a mom. When asked her favorite memory, she said giving birth for the first time. Family was everything. She was most proud of raising her kids and then seeing them raise their children so well. To her children, she was an example of resilience and positivity, always easy-going, accepting and looking beyond life’s challenges and setbacks. She enriched our lives more than we could ever express in words.
Verona was preceded in death by husband Lyle, daughter Marna (Hollingsworth), and daughter-in-law Teresa. She is survived by daughter Diane (Dan) Florio of Sudbury, MA; sons Jeff of Acton, MA, Craig of Minneapolis, and Kent of Janesville; sister Viola Morrison of Mapleton; grandchildren Zach, Nathan, Allison and Rachael Roberts; Susan and David Florio; Tory Roberts; and Chad and Garrett Hollingsworth; and eight great-grandchildren. Loved and adored by her family, she will be deeply missed, but live forever in our hearts.
The family wishes to thank the exceptionally caring, professional staff at Mapleton Community Home who tended to Verona’s needs in her last years and the Mayo Hospice nurses who assisted through her final days.
A family visitation will be held at Woodland Hills Funeral Home, Tuesday, August 8th, from 1:30 - 3:30. Burial will be private.