Centenarian Still Calls Herriman Home
Jul 13, 2016 09:31AM
● By Tori La Rue
Roberta Crane, who’s lived in Herriman for her entire life, holds her “adopted grandchild” at her 100th birthday party. – Tori La Rue
By Tori La Rue | [email protected]
Family, friends and community members gathered at a little yellow home—one of the first to be built in Herriman—on June 3 to celebrate one woman’s 100th birthday.
“When you get to be as old as I am, everybody seems to be your cousin,” Roberta Crane, the centenarian, said about the guests who kept piling into her small house.
When Roberta Crane was born in 1916, World War I was still going on, and Ford Motor Company’s Model T was on the rise. World War II was more than 20 years from starting, credit cards and CDs were decades from being invented, and today’s common devices like cell phones and the internet were unthinkable. But among all the change within the last century, Roberta said there have been a few constants.
“I was born in this very house and have lived here ever since,” Roberta said while sitting on the couch in the front room of her Herriman home. “It has been remodeled and improved, but it is still the same old house.”
The home was built in 1880 by James Crane, a polygamist and one of the early settlers of Herriman, for his third wife Rachel, Roberta’s grandmother. Carrie and Bert Crane, Roberta’s parents, later purchased the house, and raised their two daughters, Roberta and Evelyn, there. Neither Roberta nor Evelyn wanted to move away, so they didn’t, Evelyn said.
Evelyn, Roberta’s 92-year-old “baby sister” said she still remembers some of their experiences growing up. Balloons were the sisters’ favorite party favor. Evelyn said she’d always end up popping hers on a rose bush or losing it in the wind before she’d make it into the house, while Roberta would keep hers in pristine condition for days.
“That’s just how things worked out being the younger sister,” Evelyn said. “Roberta was older and wiser in more ways than that.”
As Roberta got older, she mastered the skills of the piano and at age 16 was asked to be the organist of the Herriman First Ward congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She continued to serve her congregation in this capacity until she was 80 years old, according to her relatives. In addition to her church service, Roberta made a livelihood from her talent by teaching piano lessons and accompanying school and community groups as they sang.
“Now I am embarrassed; I can’t play a tune very good,” Roberta said. “But I know the things that my students learned were for their benefit and mine. I’m still proud.”
Roberta worked at the Herriman Mercantile Store before Evelyn got her a job at Riverton Motor Company, which used to be off of Redwood Road in Riverton. Evelyn worked at the front desk of the motor company as the secretary, and Roberta did paperwork from within the shop.
“I had a little corner office, where I was squished like a bug,” Roberta said.” I was the only woman in the shop, but I was idolized, I guess is the word to say, because they all came to my aid. They wouldn’t let any customer cause me any trouble. My, that was a good job.”
Although she never married or had any children of her own, Roberta inherited grandchildren through one of her relatives, Lisa Egbert. Lisa’s father died when she was 14, and her mother was dying of cancer by the end of her senior year of high school.
“My mom asked her to take care of me, so I got given to Roberta. I am hers,” Egbert said. “She was always there for me, and she and Evelyn are the only grandparents my children have ever known.”
Egbert’s son Jed Egbert, who is now grown-up with a family of his own, said he remembers coming to his “adopted grandmothers’” house during the summer.
“They’d take to the museums around town and on hikes up South Mountain before there were houses there,” Jed Egbert said. “Roberta’s always been really quiet, but whenever we needed her, she was always there to watch us and take care of us.”
Jed Egbert’s baby boy, one of the youngest party-goers, sat on Roberta’s lap during the party as she, the oldest, greeted and conversed with her guests. Her friends and family shared stories, laughs and goodies with her as they retold old memories and created new ones.
“Roberta is really special,” Lisa Egbert said. “She is. She is.”