Friday, November 25, 2011


Austin resident Roberta Wilson is one of four Illinois residents age 65 and older selected for the Illinois Senior Hall of Fame by the Department on Aging. New inductees were chosen in the categories of Community Service, Performance & Arts, Labor Force, and Education. Ms Wilson was selected for her contributions to Education.
Roberta Wilson, age 84, was born in Thomson, Georgia. She moved to Chicago in 1946 and took a job in the Laundry Room of the Hotel Bismarck as a member of Local 46 Laundry Workers Union. After three years, she took a job with a commercial laundry. During this time, Roberta and her husband had a son, Wayne.
In 1968, Roberta went to work for the Chicago Public Schools, beginning a 36-year career. She served as a Teacher’s Assistant at Austin High School, John Hay, Sumner, Moos, and Schubert Elementary Schools. She worked at Schubert for 29 years. After retiring, she continued volunteering in the schools.
Roberta has been an active member of Third Unitarian Church in Austin for 50 years and in 1974 started the Third Unitarian Scholarship Fund, providing monetary assistance to local students heading to college. She continues to chair the annual scholarship awards.
She also organized and manages the annual coat drive at Third Unitarian, volunteers at local food pantries, and shelters. She organized and chairs the 1400 North Lockwood Block Club and is a member of Congressman Danny K. Davis’ Education Task Force. She has been a soldier in the civil rights movement since the 1960s.
Roberta is currently battling to make sure the CTA provides economical public transportation to her fellow seniors. She says she remembers riding the streetcars in Chicago when the fare was 3 cents. She regrets Governor Quinn’s action repealing the free rides for seniors program and is fighting to reinstate it.

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