Longtime Durango resident Cesarina Barasa Roberts died after a brief illness Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, at her home. She was 92.
Known as “Cese” or “Ciz,” she was born to La Plata County homesteaders Romeo and Angelica (Leonville) Barasa on June 26, 1920, on the family ranch where she grew up. Her father had immigrated from Quossolo, Italy, to Colorado in the late 1800s, and invited her mother over from the same village after being widowed with three young children.
Mrs. Roberts was one of seven children. In the 1930s, the three-room Allison school provided classes through the 10th grade, so her education was considered complete at 16. She returned to high school when she was 37.
“She paid tuition for that opportunity and was shown no special favors,” her family said. “She accomplished two years of study in one year, midst hallways and classrooms with the teenagers, all the while keeping house and caring for her family. She graduated with pride and was much admired by fellow students and teachers for her commitment.”
The day Mrs. Roberts turned 18, she left the ranch and joined her siblings Delfina, Erselia, Paul and Armond in Southern California.
In 1945, she moved to Texas and met her future husband, Paul Roberts. The couple married Aug. 1, 1946, in Tiffin, Ohio.
Until July, Mrs. Roberts had maintained her independence in Surprise, Ariz., spending summers in Durango helping her sister Violet Piccoli with the canning and being a worthy opponent at dice or cards, her family said.
“Cese was known for her generosity and for her outspoken ways,” her family said. “Family members agreed that Auntie Ciz could be counted on to ‘tell it like it was,’ whether you wanted to hear it or not. She enjoyed traveling, loved to laugh and entertain, never met a stranger, appreciated bridge and cribbage but was a pinochle player extraordinaire.”
In 1990, she created the first Allison/Tiffany/Arboles reunion, which continues to this day. The Robertses loved to ballroom dance and could be found most Saturday nights dancing to the sounds of the big-band era. In recent years, she attended spring-training baseball games in Arizona.
Mrs. Roberts was preceded in death by her husband of 55 years, Paul Anthony Roberts.
She is survived by her daughter, Olivia Ann Reynolds, of Durango; sister Violet Piccoli of Durango; brother Armond Barasa of Anaheim, Calif.; two grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A graveside service will be held at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, at Greenmount Cemetery in Durango.