Dr. Joanna Mary Roberts

Joanna Mary Roberts, M.D., of Odd passed away December 22, 2016 at Marion, Va. Dr. Roberts was born in Buffalo, N.Y., March 12, 1938, to William M. Roberts and Helen Emily (Grezchowiak) Roberts, who predeceased her, as did her brothers William M. Roberts Jr. and Robert W. Roberts. She is survived by her sister Susan Ellen Roberts, Ph.D., of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; her dear friend Susan Burt of Mill Point; her goddaughters Sarah Burt-Kinderman Riley and Joanna Burt-Kinderman, also of Mill Point; her long-time coworkers Sisters Helen Malcheski and Gretta Schmitz of the School Sisters of St. Francis; and her devoted caretakers, Thelma and Terry “Turkey” Hubbard of Marion. Joanna Roberts was a devout Catholic who dedicated her life to the service of others through her outstanding medical skills. She was a 1960 graduate of Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, and received her M.D. degree from the University of Buffalo in 1964, one of four women in her graduating class. She interned at the Edward J. Meyer Memorial Hospital in Buffalo and did an residency there in internal medicine, which she completed in 1968. Dr. Roberts then went to Mound Bayou, in the delta of Mississippi, where she practiced in the Delta Health Center under the leadership of Dr. Jack Geiger of Tufts University, serving a population of poor black people. While at Mound Bayou, she started working with members of a teaching and nursing order, the School Sisters of St. Francis, a relationship which lasted throughout her medical career. After four years of service in Mississippi, Dr. Roberts practiced for the University of Wisconsin serving a Native American reservation, and in 1974 moved to Beckley to work with another neighborhood health center, the Mountaineer Family Health Plan. In a couple of years she established an independent practice in the tiny town of Rhodell in the midst of an area devastated by the loss of coal mining jobs, but continued for several years to be affiliated with MFHP. In 1977 she opened the St. Jude Clinic in Rhodell, where she continued to practice until poor health forced her to retire in 2012. Her diagnostic skills were well known, and patients were willing to endure long waits to be seen because they knew every patient would receive the best care Dr. Roberts had to offer. She made many home visits, believing the patient could best be understood in his home environment.  She made “hospice at home” a regular part of her medical practice, enabling dying patients to spend their last days in the surroundings they loved best, never charging them for this service. Dr. Roberts work was supported for many years by the bishops of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, who recognized her special devotion to the Catholic faith by naming her a consecrated virgin. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI awarded her the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Cross. She was nominated to receive this papal honor by Bishop Michael J. Bransfield for her work in Rhodell Health Services. A Funeral Mass was celebrated at Our Lady of Victory Basilica, Lackawanna, N.Y., January 4. Burial followed at Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna. Friends were invited to Dr. Roberts’ home on Odd School Road in Odd January 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. to celebrate her life. A brief memorial service was to be held at 4 p.m.