Roberta Senner Hofer: 1948-2022
Roberta Senner Hofer, 74, passed away peacefully at her home, surrounded by her family, on Oct. 5, 2022. The cause was complications from Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.
Roberta was born to Robert and Rachel Epp Senner in Newton, Kan., on April 8, 1948. She grew up in Buhler, Kan., where she joined her siblings John and Rachel, followed by her brother Stan. Upon graduation from high school, she attended Bethel College in N. Newton, Kan., like her parents, grandparents, and older siblings before her.
In 1970, after earning a degree in art, Roberta acted upon her dream to go to Europe. Rod Hofer, a Bethel friend who was working for the Red Cross in Yugoslavia, secured her an au pair position in Ljubljana, where she was able to explore the beautiful city with its castle on the hill. During the summer she lived on the Croatian island of Hvar before joining Rod and his parents in Germany for a month-long tour of Western Europe in his new VW beetle. To this day, Rod claims that Roberta traveled halfway around the world just for him.
Roberta and Rod were married on Dec. 27, 1971, and moved to Lawrence, Kan. Other than brief stints in Pennsylvania and Thailand, Roberta called Lawrence home for the rest of her days.
Roberta and Rod started their family with the adoption of Alexandra in 1978, followed by the birth of Timothy in 1979 and Elise in 1982. She was a volunteer English instructor at Small World, an organization that helped international women and their preschool children adapt to a new culture. In 1984, the family moved to Bangkok, Thailand for six months, where Rod served as a Water Quality Advisor to the Royal Thai Government. Roberta homeschooled and cared for their three children, ages 6 and under, navigating the bustling streets by bus, taxi, and tuk-tuk.
With her children in school, Roberta matriculated at the University of Kansas and earned a master’s degree in Applied Linguistics in 1991. She worked as a lecturer at the KU Applied English Center from 1991-2001, teaching advanced reading and writing to international students. In 2001, she completed training as a paralegal and worked at the John Knox Law Firm until her retirement in 2014.
Throughout her life, Roberta was committed to peace and social justice. She helped to establish and served as Board President of the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program (VORP) in Douglas County, and helped to bring the fair-trade marketplace 10,000 Villages to downtown Lawrence. She was an active participant in the formation and growth of Peace Mennonite Church. She proudly displayed the citation she received for a peace demonstration at Fort Leavenworth, from which she was banned for life.
Roberta loved to travel — particularly to Paris in the spring — and she returned to Europe with Rod 10 times throughout their marriage. But she also loved the simple pleasures of daily life: coffee on the front porch, a cool morning jog, a new pattern on her sewing machine.
Roberta will be remembered for her fierce loyalty, warmth, and sense of humor. She was intelligent and creative, and an excellent listener who made others feel at ease. Her outward beauty – and unparalleled stylishness – reflected her inner grace and kindness. For more than 50 years, Roberta made her home a welcoming place for family and friends to gather over delicious food, good wine, and plenty of laughter.
Roberta is survived by her loving family: Rod Hofer, her husband for more than 50 years; her children Alexandra Hofer, Lawrence; Timothy (Melania) Hofer, Lenexa, Kan.; and Elise (Adam) Derstine, Goshen, Ind.; grandchildren Abram and Sally Derstine and Kathryn and Thomas Hofer; siblings John (Diana Taylor) Senner, Little Rock, Ark.; Rachel Van Wingen, Randolph, Kan.; and Stan (Pat) Senner, Missoula, Mont.; brother-in-law George Hofer, Bonita Springs, Fla., and sister-in-law Yvonne (Schnarr), Stillwater, Minn., and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents Robert and Rachel Epp Senner, in-laws George M. and Margaret Hofer, and brother-in-law Peter Van Wingen.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Nov. 5, 2022, at the First Baptist Church in Lawrence. Donations in Roberta’s memory may be made to Peace Mennonite Church, Mennonite Central Committee, Bethel College (Kansas), or the National Audubon Society, in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, PO Box 1260, Lawrence, KS 66044.