Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

FONDLY RECALLED – Former council colleagues and a wide array of friends are remembering ex-city councillor Florence Roberts, who died early Tuesday morning after a short illness.

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

Mayor Dan Curtis, Bev Buckway and Dave Stockdale

Ex-councillor remembered for dedication, huge heart

Former city councillor Florence Roberts

By Stephanie Waddell on January 11, 2017

Former city councillor Florence Roberts is being remembered as a tireless champion of Whitehorse whose contributions to the community extended far beyond her work over two council terms.

Roberts died early Tuesday morning following a short battle with cancer. She was 73.

The city lowered its flags to half-mast in Roberts’ honour.

“She had a huge heart,” Mayor Dan Curtis said Tuesday afternoon, describing Roberts’ death as a major loss for the entire city.

Curtis never served on the same council as Roberts (he was elected to his first term in 2012, after Roberts wrapped up her time as councillor from 2006 to 2012).

However, the mayor knew Roberts well, beginning with his years growing up in Porter Creek, where she also lived.

Over the years, he came to know Roberts as someone with a kind heart who volunteered her time to numerous committees and organizations and never shied away from sharing her opinions.

“She called it like she saw it,” Curtis told the Star.

Even after she had ended her municipal career, Roberts kept up to date on city issues. She would let Curtis know exactly what she thought of the decisions made in chambers.

“She never changed,” he said. “She was timeless.”

Similar sentiments were echoed by those with whom she served on council.

“She was a great individual,” former long-time councillor Dave Stockdale said Tuesday.

While Roberts was always ready and willing to share her opinions, he said, those views came from a place of logic and thoughtfulness.

Stockdale first met Roberts many years ago when they were both part of a utilities board.

It was clear then that Roberts was very knowledgeable in the issues she was involved with. That did not change over the years as Roberts took her seat in council chambers.

While she worked hard as a councillor for the entire community, Stockdale also remembers Roberts spending much of her time helping the many individuals she knew around the city.

“She was always so caring,” said Stockdale, who was first elected as a councillor in 1983.

Roberts always had other people’s situations in mind. There were countless times Stockdale heard her say she planned to drive a friend or neighbour somewhere or head out to visit someone who wasn’t able to get out.

Like Stockdale, former mayor Bev Buckway said Tuesday it’s clear Roberts had a huge impact on the overall community. That influence came through her roles on council and with various organizations, as well as individuals who she made time for and helped out.

“Her door was always open,” Buckway told the Star, echoing something she said she’s heard from many around town speaking of Roberts.

As a councillor, Roberts put her all into the role. She made sure to be at just about every meeting, whether it was council’s weekly session Monday nights or the more informal meetings council and staff have through the week when more time is needed to explore individual issues.

“She was always there,” Buckway said, recalling the many projects and events council worked on over those two terms.

Roberts’ voice on council was often the one pushing to have a better working relationship with the Yukon government, always ensuring the city and territory were talking when it came to shared issues, Buckway said.

Transit was also a matter that was near and dear to Roberts, who had attended council meetings prior to being elected to call for improved bus service.

While Roberts didn’t back down from her stance for improved service, she acknowledged she hadn’t realized the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes for transit.

“It was something she didn’t expect,” Buckway said.

During Roberts’ tenure, council dealt with its share of contentious issues, such as the planning of what is now the Whistle Bend neighbourhood.

Buckway, however, was also quick to recall the good times that were shared. An example is the annual meetings they attended for the Association of Yukon Communities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

There were also such major happenings as the 2007 Canada Winter Games and 2012 Arctic Winter Games.

Buckway recalled Roberts volunteering at the biathlon competitions, happy to help out in the cold regardless of how far the mercury had dropped that day.

Even after her time on council, Roberts continued to serve as a city representative on a number of committees, Buckway noted.

She was also on-hand as a volunteer over the years for special events at the Canada Games Centre. She would greet families with her friendly smile and hand out goodies at the annual Halloween and New Year’s Eve celebrations there.

Curtis, Stockdale and Buckway all noted their condolences to Roberts’ family and her large network of friends.

Comments (6)

Up 3 Down 1

Donna and Gordon Dodgson on Jan 13, 2017 at 8:03 pm

Gord knew Florence for about 70 years, before she even attended school and she has been family to us forever. They grew up in Silverhill, near Mission, B.C. We visited her in Whitehorse a couple of times and like everyone says her door was open. In fact we had a hard time leaving town, she wanted us to stay. She taught me to gold pan and showed me her jewellery that she made as a hobby, presenting me with a pair of earrings, which I treasure. We had a side trip to Skagway and Carcross with her. Our condolences to Arthur, Lloyd and Jenny and to her sisters, Karin and Doreen and all their families. Like others have said, Florence said it like it is. She was a strong person, always had a smile, and a helping hand. You will never be forgotten. --Donna

Up 4 Down 1

Peter on Jan 13, 2017 at 6:13 pm

I first met Florence through a long time friend when I moved to the Yukon in 1991. Florence was a kind and generous person, she was also very knowledgeable about issues of importance to her and the community. Florence had a quick wit and sharp reasoning and she was not afraid to speak her mind. Florence is one of the few individuals I've met who not only talked the talk but walked the walk. I will miss the occasional encounters and updates about what is happening. Florence is someone I have always liked and respected. Very sorry to hear she passed away. My condolences to her family.

Up 11 Down 1

Peter Wojtowicz on Jan 13, 2017 at 6:14 am

I met Florence in the 70's when she was living on the old alaska Highway.
She was known as " The Yukon Yapper" on citizen band radio. We often met at her house for coffee and talked about many things. In CB (citizen band) talk we called this "eyeballing". Her house was always open and if you needed help, she was there.
Over the years our paths crossed many times. I am very sad on her passing and will miss her. I will never forget the kindness and the funny things she did.
Well I think she would have said this on her passing. "This the Yukon Yapper, I am QRT on this end, have a good day!" It has been a pleasure knowing you Florence. From Peter Wojtowicz " The Globetrotter"

Up 17 Down 2

Loralee on Jan 11, 2017 at 7:44 pm

To the family of sister Florence Roberts, I am so sorry for your loss. I had the pleasure of working with Florence in the Yukon Employees Union local Y017, she was on our executive. I especially recall her patience with new union members and a very nervous new president (me). I left the Yukon in September and fortunately ran into Flo just before leaving town - she said, come back to visit, you'll always have a place to stay. Thank you sweet sister, your kindness to all will not soon be forgotten.

Up 23 Down 6

ralpH on Jan 11, 2017 at 6:56 pm

I cannot beleive someone would thumb down comments by Al and Lynn. Florence was a beautiful person I had the pleasure and honour to work with her on a couple of occasions. Yukon lost one of its treasures for sure. Mr Robb She is a 5 percenter!!

Up 54 Down 5

Al & Lynn Alcock on Jan 11, 2017 at 4:14 pm

Both of us were friends with Flo for well over the past 35 years. The comments above tell only a brief part of Flo's community involvement. Always tireless to help and always smiling was who she was. Never did we once know of her to want something in return for what she did.

In recent years (the past 4) Flo worked with Lynn in the Red Cross office assisting with the Health Equipment Loan Program. Gads she knew everyone that walked in the door, especially the old-timers from all over the Yukon. Always helpful and ready to make things work for the whomever it was.

When Al was away on a Red Cross disaster deployment for weeks on end she always checked in with Lynn to make sure things were going OK.

Yes Flo will be missed, and really in life what can you ask for but to be remembered. Flo was truly one lovely person. She set the bar, one that each of us should try to meet.

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