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She was born Dec. 31, 1940, in San Diego, Calif., two years after the fall of Wall Street, and began a lifetime of traveling.
Her parents, Bob Cooper and Bertha (Mosier) Whittier, bought a house on the side of a canyon, which was later rented out as they finally bought a trailer to chase jobs. Her father, an iron worker/welder, found work in Washington on a dam being built there, and so, after visiting her mother’s relatives in Portland and Seattle, the trailer became one of a caravan of other ironworkers. Roberta talked of nights around a bonfire where she learned to play a violin as the families sang and talked. Her father would later brag,“his girls (Roberta had a younger sibling by then) had been in every state west of the Mississippi, with the exception of three.”
Every Sunday, Roberta’s mother would take the girls to whatever Christian church was near, and when they got to Sandy, Utah, she bought another house. The ironworkers had found jobs in Provo, and each day and night, would drive back and forth in a 1940 Hudson. Roberta talked about their coal stove in Sandy, and the milk frozen on the doorstep after delivery.
After the family left Utah, they returned to San Diego when Roberta was in the fifth grade, by way of Brawley, Calif. Living in their San Diego home, Roberta and her sister graduated from high school. Roberta started junior college there, working at a child care facility in the afternoons and going to nurse’s aide classes at night.
She soon got a job at Scrips Memorial Hospital as a nurse’s aide when an RN class was advertised in Modesto, where her parents were living. At her mother’s urging, she applied and was accepted for the first class of the school. She now had two children, but lived close enough to the school to go home for lunch and return for afternoon classes. Her mother now had foster children and at one time, there were seven children under the age of 7, with five cribs set up in the house. Lunch time could be very busy.
After graduation from nursing school, Roberta got a job in Martinez, Calif., at the VA hospital. There, she met and married Jeanie Lewis, and had her daughter. They bought a home in Pittsburg, Calif., where the older boys started school. Three years later they moved to Southern California, and divorcing Jeanie, bought a home in Compton. Later, they moved to Torrence, then Long Beach, and then returned to Compton while working at Kaiser in bellflower.
Roberta worked at the Kaiser emergency room in Oakland, and living in San Leandro, when she met and married Dave Meditz. Dave owned some land in Harney County and wanted to “make a go of it,” so he started on the 40 acres in a pickup with a cabover camper. Meanwhile, Roberta would drive back and forth every two weeks until she finally quit Kaiser in Oakland and moved to the land in Harney County.
It didn’t take long before Roberta was taking traveling jobs under contract for six weeks to nine months, traveling home at one to two week intervals. Finally, Roberta retired at the age of 72.
She is survived by her husband, David; sister, Bonnie Sue; and sons, Nick and Phillip.
She was preceded in passing by her parents and daughter.
Donations in her memory may be made to Harney County Hospice.
A private service will be held.