Roberta Chance Conrad, 95, quietly left this life Tuesday, July 3, in Wilmington, the city she had called home since 1977. Born in 1923 in Matthewstown, MD, to Charles A. and Frances Knotts Chance, this farmer’s daughter could scarcely imagine she would be a world traveler someday.
Before her Easton High School graduation in 1939, “Bert” met “Jimmy.” They became Mr. and Mrs. James C. Conrad in 1944 while he was on leave from the Army Air Corps. Thus began a partnership honored in 2016 when Worldwide Marriage Encounter named them Delaware’s longest married couple, with 71 years as of September 2015.
Bert was open to exploring the world, and showed much dedication and courage in making any new situation work. After Jim graduated from University of Maryland in chemical engineering, Bert supported Jim’s DuPont career through multiple relocations while they raised 4 children. The most exciting and challenging relocation was four years in Tokyo, Japan. In each new home, she participated in the local PTA, and enjoyed golf, bridge and dancing as their family grew up. Throughout these years, Bert began to share her boundless energy and good nature with organizations lucky enough to have her as a volunteer.
Bert developed a career of volunteering that lasted over 30 years in Wilmington hospitals and libraries after their move here for Jim’s retirement. Christiana Care recognized her for 31 years and 6,400 hours of volunteer service at a May 2010 volunteer event. During the same timeframe, she volunteered at Concord Pike Library and thereafter spent several days a week at Brandywine Hundred Library, retrieving books for reader requests and reserves. She received a special county “spirit of volunteering” award for 25 years of service. She also volunteered in Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church library for many years.
While the Conrad couple travelled in Europe, Southeast Asia, South Africa, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Soviet Union, Bert found time to garden, swim at the YMCA, play Bridge with many groups including Sellers Senior Center, and play golf with the DuPont Country Club Ladies Group. For Bert, golf was an 18-hole walk with her bag on her shoulder, although it held fewer clubs when she left the fairways for good a few years ago.
She loved the outdoors and nature and made sure her family learned to love them, too. She enjoyed tent camping trips to many states and visits to national parks. Until recently, Bert still did yard work and took special pleasure listening to wrens in their backyard. She maintained certification to land a single engine Cessna in case Jim had trouble while piloting.
Roberta’s friends and family appreciated her optimism and quiet perseverance, and called her the “energizer bunny”. Her mottos were “Enjoy!” and “Keep it moving!” She stayed very active until late in life.
Roberta was preceded in death by her parents and siblings as well as the couple’s son, Bruce Conrad, 64, in 2013. She is survived by her husband and three daughters: Charlotte Grant (Roger) of La Crosse, Wisconsin; Barbara Conrad, of Glen Arm, MD; and Nancy Conrad, of Cornelius, NC.
Friends and family who wish to honor Bert’s memory may make gifts to St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Brandywine Hundred Library, or the charity of their choice.