Nearly two hundred Episcopalians, friends and sympathizers from other Christian denominations as well as non-Christians, occupied seats at the St. John’s Irving Memorial Episcopal Church in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County over last weekend to witness the home-going of Mother Canon Marilyn K. Roberts, a dedicated missionary to Liberia since 1961 and widow of the Reverend Edgar Bolling Robertson.
Born on August 5, 1930 in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States of America, Mother Robertson migrated to Liberia in 1961 as a young Episcopalian missionary, and devoutly served her church and the country on several fronts.
In his exhortation at the funeral held at St. John’s Irving Episcopal Church in Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County, the Primate and Metropolitan Archbishop of West Africa, the Most Rev. Jonathan B. B. Hart, said knowing Marilyn Robertson and her husband, Rev. Fr. E. Bolling Robertson, was always a source of joy.
“As a young man attending the Theological College at Cuttington in 1974, I had so much love for the Robertsons, and that love kept us together as a family all through the years. They always had something for us to eat, even if we were not expected as guests of their home,” Archbishop Hart said.
He spoke on the theme: “Preparation to Enter God’s House.”
Quoting the Book of John 14:1-3 of the Holy Bible, Archbishop Hart said: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would not have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
“This is what Jesus, our Lord, said to His disciples and all others who listened to Him as He answered a number of questions. All we have to do is to obey the teachings of the Gospel by doing what is required of each of us as Christians.”
The prelate said if anyone’s life was not transformed after having several privileged hours with Mother Robertson, it meant that that person should examine himself or herself very carefully.
There are many reasons for which Mother Robertson has to be celebrated by the Liberian community in general and the world at large.
“She was too caring and selfless. Her ability to deal with people of all classes without hurting them made her a very wonderful woman. Robertson was a mother and a grandmother of all children,” Archbishop Hart added.
He said Robertson made Liberia her home and all through the years she did not care about the good things life had to offer her back home in the United States.
“Although at some point in time she retired from her active mission work and returned to the U.S., soon did we realize that she was not comfortable leaving her long-time family in Liberia. She came back most often and later on decided to come back and stay until her passing in February this year,” he narrated.
Mother Robertson died on February 23, 2019 at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Sinkor.
As it was in the case of Jesus, who saved many lives and performed several miracles during His ministry on earth, Mother Cannon Marilyn Robertson had her own challenges in life.
“She taught many people the word of God through the Holy Bible, but not all of them understood or appreciated the great impact it would have on their lives several decades latter,” he said.
Tributes came in their numbers. Among them came one from Dr. Eugene Shannon, a son of Grand Cape Mount County, who received tutelage from Mother Robertson at the St. John’s Episcopal High School.
“We will remember Teacher Robertson for her good works; she lived for the good of the our country and the world,” Shannon said.
The responsibility is now on the alumni of the St. John’s Episcopal High School to continue building the structures and systems that Mother Robertson and her husband lived all their lives.
Senator Varney Sherman expressed regret over the loss of Mother Robertson. He also read the tributes from Mrs. Alice Whitaker and Ann Robertson, two of the many family members who could not make it to the funeral service in Liberia.
Sherman read part of Whitaker’s eulogy as: “The Scripture says, ‘You know them by their fruits’ (Matt. 7:16.) My sister, Marilyn, knew her Lord and by her fruits: [Through] Love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, and self-control she impacted many lives, including my own.”
The Government of Liberia, meanwhile, prepared an Official Gazette outlining the many contributions Mother Marilyn Robertson made to the Church and the education sector of Liberia over the decades.
“Mother Robertson was recognized for her selfless service to humanity, particularly exhibited through her long practical working experience in religious education in the classroom,” the Gazette said.
“Mother Robertson was a holder of several degrees and honors, including the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Master’s in Religious Education from the University of Wyoming, U.SA in the early 1950s.
“She was an honorary Canon of Trinity Cathedral, Principal of Bromley Girls School in Virginia, Lower Montserrado, lecturer at the Department of Theology at Cuttington and lecturer at Gbarnga School of Theology.
“Other positions she held over the years included, Vestry member and Advisor of the Episcopal Church Women in Liberia, supervisor, the House of Bethany, St. John’s girls Department, Teacher, St. John’s Episcopal High School, Robertsport, Cape Mount. Mother Robertson was also an organist and a strong disciplinarian.”
On Friday March 8, 2019, the day of the burial in Robertsport, the government ordered that the Flag of the country be flown half-mast at all public buildings.
Robertson’s remains were cremated through the assistance of the Indian Consul-General and portion of the ashes gathered was interred beside the grave of her late husband, Rev. Fr. E. Bolling Robertson, who also came on the Episcopal Church missionary journey in Liberia in 1945.
The rest of the ashes of the deceased were flown to the United States for interment.
Rev. Fr. Bolling Robertson, too, stayed in the country all through the years and willed that he should be buried on the top of the mountain of Grand Cape Mount County.