On a beautiful fall day on September 1, 1937, a lovely baby girl was born to Robert Wesley and Dorothy Louise Sheldon in Chatham, N.Y. Nicknamed, Bobbi, Roberta was the third of six daughters and one son.
Robert Wesley and Dorothy Louise raised Roberta on their dairy farm in Chatham NY, where she helped tend to the family’s cows and livestock. Roberta’s father, Robert, once owned a racehorse named R.C. Handover R.C. that used to race professionally at Saratoga Raceway that Roberta enjoyed caring for R.C. during the winter farms. Roberta was also an entertainer at an early age. She and her sisters performed as “The Five Sheldon Sisters” and would tap dance and entertain local audiences They received many encores during their performances. Roberta was active in community activities and was on the Edgehill Farms Bowling team with three of her sisters. She joined the 4th Club in Chatham NY, Colombia County she entered with two of her sisters, participating in baking, sewing and produce competition and they came away with several ribbons. In their spare time, Roberta and three of her sisters went horseback riding on the farm.
Roberta accepted Christ at an early age as a member of the Payne A.M.E. Church in Chatham. Wiith her grandmother she served as the Sunday School teacher. Roberta graduated from Chatham Central High School in 1955. While in high school, Roberta was an active student and highly competitive. In addition to her studies, Roberta excelled at soccer, track, softball, drill team, basketball, bowling and won many awards for her sportsmanship.
After graduating high school Roberta wanted to pursue her dream of joining the armed forces but was advised against it for being female at that time. In 1956 she enrolled in and graduated from the Burrough Business Machine School located in Albany, N.Y. She went on to accept the position of Calculator, Known today as the computer, with the New York State Department of Finance where she worked before retiring with 34 years of service. Even in retirement, Roberta would fondly tell others, “I’m not ready to sit down yet!”
Roberta also played basketball and was on the girl’s team in Chatham. The team played against an Albany girl’s team from the Old Arbor Hill Community Center where she met Robert L. Haith. Robert was an avid basketball player and was refereeing the girl’s basketball game Roberta was playing in. The two become well acquainted and in 1963, Robert and Roberta married. The two made their home in Albany, N.Y. While playing in the Edgehill Farms Bowlers League, she met an avid basketball player named Robert L. Haith. In 1963 Robert and Roberta married and the two made their home in Albany, N.Y.
In 1966 Roberta obtained her Cosmetology diploma from Orchid Beauty School in New York City. Roberta went from being employed by Ruth’s Beauty Salon in Hudson, N.Y. for 6 years to being employed at the NYS Training School for Girls in Hudson and Claverack, N.Y. There she was a Senior Children’s Supervisor and an operator in the beauty salon in Claverack. She left the Training School for Girls and accepted several part time employment opportunities between New York City and the Albany, N.Y. area. She then received her diploma and accepted employment as the Cosmetology Instructor at the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center, known then as the Urban Center. After many years of her hard work, her collection of much valuable information, her advanced education, and attending several workshops; the Advisory Board at Hudson Valley Community College promoted Roberta to a Professor of Cosmetology. After the beauty culture program, she saw the demand for nails. She took a course on nails then developed and implemented the new nail specialty. The program was a vast success. After many hours of dedication, despite some disappointments, Roberta persevered and today the students have nothing but praise for her nail program. She always expected optimum performance from her students. She remained steadfast and a true professional. Roberta worked with many diverse people and always displayed a cheerful enthusiasm about her task. Because of this, her personality has inspired and energized her students. Roberta was a role model for her students by displaying honesty, integrity, and creativity.
She was awarded a certificate by the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center for three consecutive years of Perfect Attendance. She made an impact on both her community and students during her time with E.O.C. She may not go down in History, but one thing is for certain, she will definitely find her place in the hearts of many students whose lives she touched as a “hero”.
Roberta was friendly and enjoyed the roses and lilies she grew in her flower garden. She also operated a small beauty salon in her basement, “Bert’s Prim & Trim”, where she pampered her close friends. She always tried to make a difference by coming to the aid of the less fortunate and helping them strive to reach their goals. Roberta always believed in being a lady and encouraged her students to be professional, respectable, honorable, and creative. Roberta was also a fashionista and modeled in fashion shows and church events Roberta always believed in being a lady and encouraged her students to be professional, respectable, honorable, and creative. Roberta was also a fashionista and modeled in fashion shows and church events.
Roberta was a child of God and served the Lord and others with gladness and was always mindful of her many blessings. Roberta’s philosophy in life was, “Life is a highway on which years speed by, sometimes the roads are level, sometimes the hills are high, just put your trust in Jesus!” As you travel onward to a gesture unknown, we can make each mile a heavenly steppingstone where the angels wait to join us and the praise forever more. She says, I am what God says I am. Put God first, others second, and self last”.
For over 35 years, Roberta was a regular and faithful member of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church where she sang in the Choir and was honored as a Senior Citizen Saint. Roberta also served as a Trustee, The Women’s Guild Secretary, and was chairwoman for Women’s Day, volunteered in soup kitchen. She also attended the adult Sunday School class with new member of the committee and Floral Committee. She attended Hampton’s Ministers Conference in Hampton, Virginia. Roberta founded and was a member of the Tri-City Ebony Professional Barbers and Beauticians Association. In addition, she was a dedicated member of the New York State 100 Black Women’s Coalition, Albany Branch NAACP, Executive Board for the Special Program for Community Colleges, Editor for “Beauty Tips” in the South End scene paper, and Albany’s Professional Black Men’s Association. She was recognized by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority as a Outstanding Black Beautician in the Capital District. Roberta also received a Woman of Distinction Award by the legislative body of Black Women’s Association of Albany. Roberta also received her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Utica Technology College, Utica, NY.
Roberta Sheldon Haith leaves to mourn her late loving memories, her beloved son, Robert Wesley Corey Haith of Texas, grandson, Robert Alexander (Alex) Raith, 4 sisters, Marlene E. Hammond, Colonie, Beverley J. Norwood, Watervliet, Joan M. Sheldon, Colonie, Kathleen J. Kruzinski, Selkirk, brother-in-law, Marvin E. Haith and his significant other, Mary Nabors, Washington, brother-in-law Robert Kruzinski, Selkirk, sister-in-law, Jackie Haith, Caselton, 2 step daughters, Barbara Ann (John Cummings), Delaware, Sandra Haith, Philadelphia. 3 step-grandsons, Bryan, Bryce, and Brendon Haith, granddaughter, Storm’ Haith, Philadelphia. She is preceded in death by her husband, Robert L. Haith, sisters Claudia A. Pugh, Sharon (Earl) Brown, brother, Robert Wesley Sheldon, Jr., brothers-inlaw, Earl Brown, William (Bill & Noonie) Hammond, John Haith, and great nieces and nephews, Gail Hammond Walters, Colonie, Kimberly Norwood, Watervliet, Michael Haith, California, Earl Brown, Jr., Connecticut, and Daren VanAlstyne, Albany, N.Y., Aaron Walters, Martha Walters, Albany, N.Y., and Alexandria (Alex) Walters of Colonie, N.Y.