Roberta Williamson Evans, 101, passed away Sunday, February 25, 2018, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Roberta was born July 29, 1916, as the seventh of nine children of J.T (Tom) Williamson and Carrie May (Edwards) Williamson in Mena, Arkansas. She graduated from high school at Hatfield, Arkansas – the only one of her siblings to do so. Her first employment was as a substitute teacher in the Big Fork School east of Mena, but when a permanent credentialed teacher could not be found she taught solo for much of the school year. While there, she met Boyce Raymond Evans and they were married in August, 1936, producing a son who, sadly, was stillborn the following year.
A group of deer hunters from the Lawson-Urbana area of South Arkansas met Roberta and Boyce while hunting in the Sulphur Springs area in 1937 and invited them to relocate to Lawson where Boyce could find a job as a heavy equipment operator. They acquired land to operate as a farm/ranch where they raised beef cattle. Another son, Michael Brent Evans, was born in December, 1944.
Roberta was widowed in April, 1961, when Boyce unexpectedly passed away. The following year, her only son left the area to attend college – leaving her as the sole owner/operator of the 200-acre ranch and 150 head of livestock. In addition, and due to the benevolence of Dr. Kenneth Duzan, she took employment as a laboratory technician in hematology at the hospital in El Dorado and continued that work until her formal retirement in 1980. Roberta lived and thought frugally and earned her financial independence as a rancher and medical staff employee. She converted the ranch property gradually from stock production to a pine timber plantation and moved to a home in El Dorado around 1969. When she retired in 1980, she followed close friends to the Hot Springs area where she had earlier bought a small home on a creek tributary of Lake Hamilton. She spent the rest of her active life lovingly tending that property, encouraging wild flora and especially dogwoods.
Roberta was a lifelong Southern Baptist and enjoyed membership in several churches, most recently First Baptist of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Many of her closest friends came from those associations.
Roberta is survived by her son, Michael Brent Evans of Hot Springs, Arkansas; two grandsons, Erick Boyce Evans of Prescott, Arizona, and Daren Scott Evans of Colorado Springs, Colorado; and three great grandchildren – Irina Avsukevich of Denver, Colorado, Viktoriya (Tori) Chamaine Evans of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Bryan Boyce Evans, of Phoenix, Arizona. Through her marriage, she gained the extended Brown family and Hollingsworth family, both of Lubbock, Texas, as favored nephews and nieces, and the family of her predeceased brother, J.A. Williamson of Monahans, Texas, in her own bloodline.
Roberta loved to read both fiction and non-fiction works, as well as embarking on various projects of independent study in the arts, horticulture, and outdoor living. She was an excellent seamstress/tailor and put her own labels in clothing she made for herself or gifted to others. And she was a storied cook, at least to her family and close friends. As a rancher, she saddled and rode her horses like a cowboy, herding livestock.
A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, March 7, 2018, in the Chapel of Bailey Funeral Home in El Dorado, Arkansas. Roberta was cremated and her ashes will be interred at the gravesite of her late husband at Old Union Cemetery near El Dorado, Arkansas, in a private burial.
Roberta spent her last years at the West Shores assisted-living facility in Hot Springs. Her family thanks the friendly, capable and attentive staff of the facility and especially the group of day and night service caregivers who attended her lovingly.
Memorial contributions are not necessary but think of Roberta when you make gifts to your local library.
Please visit www.baileyfuneralhome.net to sign the online register book.