Roberta Geneva Emerson was born on June 4th, 1920 in Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania to the late Lonnie Lee Emerson and Roberta “Robbie” Harris.
In her formative years, she was raised in Pennsylvania, before relocating to Boston, Massachusetts at the age of fifteen, with her mother and step father. There, Roberta attended and subsequently graduated from Girl’s High School. After high school, she became one of the few Black women, at the time, to attend the city’s prestigious Boston Clerical School as a young woman.
Equipped with the rare skill of shorthand and a natural talent for typing, Roberta found herself highly sought after by local businesses and renowned institutions, alike.
It was also in Boston where she met and married the late John L. Baskerville Sr. of Portsmouth, Virginia. Beginning their new life together in Roxbury, Roberta gave birth to their first child, Carla, in 1945. As their eldest and only daughter, she would be followed by three younger brothers, John, Daniel, and Elliott. Today, Roberta is reunited with Carla and Daniel.
In addition to her role as mother and wife, Roberta continued her work as a secretary, employed by the University of Massachusetts’ History Department, where she was responsible for the recording of scholarly manuscripts, until her eventual retirement.
She leaves to mourn her two sons, John Baskerville Jr. of Santa Rosa, CA and Elliott Baskerville (Barbara) of East Orange, NJ; five grandchildren, including Michelle Smith of Framingham, MA; Ayanna Colebut of Camp Springs, MD; Joey Colebut Jr. (Natalie) of Mineola, NY; Shavon Hammond (Kenneil) of Lynn, MA; and Jessica Baskerville of East Orange, NJ; one “adopted” son Clayton Grant (Joette) of Dorchester, MA; two great grandchildren, Angelina Madrid and Leah Simone Colebut of Mineola, NY. She is also reunited with her late granddaughter Simone A. Smith. Cherishing her memory, are a host of people whose lives she impacted greatly with her wisdom and her love during her 98 years of life.