Josephine L. Roberts was born to Italian immigrants on November 13, 1925. Josephine was known as “Jo” to her family and friends. Her parents were from Sicily and came through Ellis Island in the very early part of the last century. Her father Francis Arego grew up near Messina and her mother, Constance Pavone near Palermo. Jo was rather proud of her Italian heritage. This could be seen in her love of gardening and cooking, both passions that emanated from her Italian father.
Although the family settled in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Jo was born at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge) Jo grew up in Watertown. She graduated from Watertown High School in 1944. Jo was an excellent student as well as an athlete. She played on her school’s basketball, field hockey and softball teams. This competitive spirit served her well through life. She strived to do well in whatever she did, including being a wonderful wife and mother. Jo demonstrated her competitive spirit later in life in swimming and bowling. Jo loved her bowling league and loved even more having the “high score.”
In the spring of 1943 Josephine and her girlfriends were in downtown Boston when they met several sailors who were in Boston before shipping over to the Mediterranean Theatre of War. One of the young men was a 17 year old lad by the name of John Joseph Roberts. Corresponding with John during the war led to a relationship back in the states upon his return; and, in May of 1947 Jo and John were married at St. Mary’s Church in Watertown. John was from Philadelphia and shortly after they married they settled in Philly for about 6 months before moving back to Watertown. They spent the rest of their lives living in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
In February of 1948 their first son John (“Jack”) was born and in November of 1952 their second son Dennis arrived. Over the years the family moved around a good deal predominantly because John’s career at HP Hood and Sons was taking off resulting in promotions to different branch offices. The family moved to Hyannis in spring of 1961 and Mary Theresa was born that May. Jo and John fell in love with Cape Cod and this manifested itself in their return to the Cape in 1977.
It is true that John was the primary “bread winner” but Jo returned to the work force in the mid-fifties. In high school Jo had learned book keeping which she put to good use working at the Hood Rubber plant in Watertown (during high school and until marriage). In the fifties Jo used this background to work in the business offices of stores such as JM Fields and Fox. She also worked in the offices of the Framingham School System. Upon her return to the Cape in 1977 Jo was the office manager for Cape Cod Today and she also used her book keeping skills to work for private clients.
Josephine was doing all this and bringing up three children. Jo and John provided good examples of good family values and how to interact with people in a respectful manner. We all learned “right from wrong” at an early age. Jo dished out a balanced level of discipline. The family was a happy family. Jo managed to shield her children from some of the negative forces in life while at the same time providing a window into reality and the good and bad that can come from reality. Jo, however, was not immune to heartbreak. In 1991 her son, Dennis, passed away. She managed to keep her composure so that those around her could keep theirs.
Jo was a grandmother several times over. Her son Jack and his former wife Barbara gave Jo her first granddaughter Jennifer Roberts in 1971. Three years later Jack and Barbara presented Jo with a grandson, Daniel. In 1992 Jo’s daughter Mary gave birth to her second granddaughter, Andrea. All three grandchildren deeply loved Jo. Every time they talked to Jo their eyes lit up and a wide smile crossed their faces. And the same could be said of Jo when talking to or about her grandchildren. Josephine’s nieces and nephews also held a special place in Jo’s heart and till the end they were there for her.
Jo was very much in love with John over all those years. They did so much together. They managed the trials and tribulations of establishing a family with love and understanding. In February of 2010 Jo had another heart break when the love of her life, John, passed away. At times like this there is always a concern how one reacts to such loss. Like so many of her generation who experienced the hardships of the Depression and the losses of war Jo managed to not only move on in life but to thrive. She was a strong independent woman who, through many friends and family, continued to lead a productive life. She continued to become an even better and more loving mother and grandmother. She traveled to Europe for the first time in 2000 where she and John spent time with her grandchildren Daniel and Jennifer. After John’s passing Jo spent time in Paris with Daniel and his husband Arnaud.
As a loving person Josephine reached an emotional high when she met her first great grandchild this December, from her grandson Daniel. Clara Charlotte was the best Christmas present she could have imagined at this stage of her life.
Jo led a wonderful life. She loved and was loved. She gave without expecting anything in return. She was as honest as one could imagine. Jo made those around her feel good about themselves. Perhaps the most obvious reflection of the terrific person that Josephine was is the many people who loved her and called her their friend. So, for those of us who knew and loved Josephine we now have a void in our life as Jo passed away this past Monday, February 5, 2018.