Obituary: Reba Yurman Roberts, 77

Twice named Rohnert Park Woman of the Year and honored as Grand Marshal of the Founder’s Day Parade, Reba Roberts was known to nearly everyone in town.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Reba (Yurman) Roberts graduated from New York University with a degree in Journalism and Radio.  Trained in voice and dance, as a young person she sang on radio and with bands and wrote a weekly column while still in high school.  Upon her marriage, she transferred from NBC’s Comedy Writing Department in New York to a similar position in Hollywood, California.

In the early 1960’s, Reba and her husband, Art Roberts, moved to Rohnert Park and established the third business in the newly established town, the Rohnert Park Pharmacy.  Wanting to help the new city get recognized, Reba approached several local radio stations and before long, she had five radio shows a week plus a monthly television show, all focused around Rohnert Park. 

She also became active with the Rohnert Park Women’s Association and later became President of the organization.  When her husband won a seat on the Rohnert Park City Council, Reba began helping plan and carry out many city functions such as building dedications and store openings, acting as City Publicist as a volunteer. 

She also became very active in the Rohnert Park Chamber of Commerce and served as Activities Director for over ten years.  She began by organizing Rohnert Park’s Founder’s day celebrations and parades; garnering First Place honors in the Santa Rosa parade, even in the first year.  Soon Reba established and ran the Miss Rohnert Park Pageant, for over twenty-five years.

Reba served in the original Rohnert Park Cultural Arts Council and was the City’s representative to the Sonoma County Cultural Arts Council.  As such, she helped bring the Wally Barnum Caravanners to Sonoma County for their convention, which led to her needing to give an identity to Rohnert Park for bumper stickers, etc.  She came up with “The Friendly City”; an identity still used today.

Twice Reba was named Rohnert Park Woman of the Year and was honored as Grand Marshal of the Founder’s Day Parade.  On Rohnert Park’s 40th anniversary, Reba was named as one of the ten people who had the most impact on the City since its inception.  She was the only woman on the list.  There is a street. “Reba’s Way” named in her honor.

For over twenty years Reba was State Publicist for the California State Finals of the Junior Miss Scholarship Program.  She also served as a preliminary judge for many programs.  In 2002, she was inducted into the Junior Miss Hall of Fame.  Additionally, Reba hosted many committee volunteers and winners at her home during the ten-day program and hosted a dinner for almost thirty volunteers each year.

Utilizing her many years as a public speaker, Reba taught interview skills to both Junior Miss and Miss Sonoma County contestants, She also co-produced the Miss Sonoma County program book for twenty years and was a judge for many programs throughout the State.

Because of her theatrical background, Reba was also a judge for many talent shows, including the California State Talent competition where she helped judge more than 2,000 contestants over three days each year.

Reba produced the “Rohnert Park High Fever Follies” as a community fundraiser twice and appeared in the show as well.  She also participated in the Gong Show fundraiser for the benefit of Rancho Cotate.

In 1982, Reba established her own public relations and advertising agency called “It’s Reba”.  She produced newsletters and annual reports for the city of Rohnert Park for many years and was recognized nationally as having the best annual report in the country.

Reba was a Past President of the Sonoma County Press Club; Past President of the Forum, (a Sonoma County women’s organization);

As a community service, Reba organized and ran a charm school, “The Fix t Shop” for young women, funded by the City of Rohnert Park.  Over 100 young women participated during the two years the program continued.  Reba obtained successful and influential woman speakers to address the young women. 

Reba wrote a weekly column for the local newspaper called “Round Rohnert”. She also wrote a column briefly for the Argus Courier and did radio voice-overs for a number of products.

Reba was married to five time City Mayor Arthur Roberts, conducted his successful campaigns as well as others.  She was a volunteer for both child and youth groups around the city for more than 50 years.  Reba’s greatest joys included her work with the Miss Sonoma County and Junior Miss programs where she was able to positively affect the lives of hundreds of young women, with many of whom she still had contact.

Her two children, Jeff and Lisa Roberts; daughter in law May Roberts; grandchildren Michelle, Alex and Joseph Roberts, all of Southern California, survive Reba.

Reba passed away at home early Saturday morning July 9, 2011 in the company of her family and friends. In accordance with Reba’s instructions, a memorial service will not be held until August, date pending.

Pat Miller July 12, 2011 at 02:10 AM
We will miss you and love you forever, Reba!
Edy King July 13, 2011 at 04:09 AM
The Miss Sonoma County committee will miss your beautiful face and wonderful sprite and so will the contestants.Love you always Edy King Executive Director


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