Roberta van Schilfgaarde
Born in 1930, Roberta was raised on a large farm in Iowa in a fairly secluded area. In her college years, she met a young man who was an international student in agriculture and came to work as intern. This young man, Jan van Schilfgaarde not only became her husband and father of their three children, but also introduced her to anthroposophy. Roberta first encountered Willi Sucher in 1970, after her family relocated to California from Washington, DC. When her husband first told her about the move, she was not happy, but a friend told her, “Never mind, Roberta, Willi Sucher is there.” This was a name that she had not yet heard in the Anthroposophical Society in America, but for some reason that statement cheered her up. Once settled in California in a beautiful home overlooking the San Bernadino Valley and the San Gabriel mountains, Roberta was invited to a lecture given by Willi Sucher. She was excited to finally hear this man speak! Willihad recently retired and moved to Meadow Vista in Northern CA but came regularly to present workshops in the Los Angeles area for the members of the Anthroposophical Society.
She had expected a giant of a fellow, but he was a short, small-framed man who started his lecture by drawing a huge free-hand, perfect circle on the blackboard. As he spoke, she realized that in reality she was witnessing a giant of a man. She was in total amazement at the content and depth of his understanding. She took up a study ofhis work and moved into all aspects of it with great enthusiasm, even doing birth star charts. Willi continued with these workshops until themid 1970’s. He then asked Roberta if she would take over these workshops for him, as he was finding that the long weekends were too much of a task and too strenuous for his 80 years. She was honored to take them up for him and she set up a schedule to meet one weekend a month with students of Willi’s work during their remaining years in Southern California. Once during that time she took the group, with Willi’s permission, up to Meadow Vista to meet with him in person one last time.
She first met Darlys Turner, who ran the Astrosophy Center in Meadow Vista, on the phone when Willi transferred it to her to take down Roberta’s book order for members of her study group, but it wasn’t until 1995 that she actually met Darlys in person along with Jonathan Hilton, one of the other Board members of the Center from New York. This meeting occurred at the first gathering of a wide group of people connected to astrosophy at an Astrosophy Conference in the Bay area ten years after Willi’s death. From that time she participated in all aspects of the Astrosophy Center, attending the annual Board meetings and continuing tirelessly editing with Darlys all of the remaining books, articles, letters, and lectures by Willi. During that time she moved into the foothills of Oakland CA and then to Fort Collins, Colorado, where her husband, Jan, passed away. At 86, she now lives in Alabama near her family in an elder care home.