Joseph Allen Roberts

Smith Funeral Homes & Crematory Ltd.

Joe passed away at his home in Sunnyside, WA on the 13th of October 2020 at the age of 100. His wife of 80 years Agnes, holding his hand, along with his son Larry and his wife Marilyn were also there.

Joe or “Old Joe” as he like to call himself was born in March 1920 to Dee and Nettie Roberts, dryland wheat farmers in the Glade area 10 miles north of Mabton, WA. He would be the third of six children of their family consisting of three girls and three boys.

Joe attended the “Lone star School” a one room affair, in the first grade and after that the “Plainview School,” also a one room school; that is also where he came to know his future wife Agnes Coyle. He would graduate from the 8th grade at the age of 13 and after graduating his dad Dee told him “now son I’m going to finish your education.” He had actually already worked a harvest of six weeks in the fall of 1932 tending header on his dad’s horse-drawn combine. In the fall of 1933 he started working out for local farmers. He worked for Bob Ferguson in the fall of 1933 then three years for Charlie Jensen, Al Matsen for one year, and Ranald Ferguson for one year. In the fall of 1936 Joe and Bill Shotwell teamed up to work in the hay and potato fields in Harrah, WA. In the summer of 1942 he worked for Harry and Wes Wilson who were farming Ranald Ferguson’s land while he was in the service; later that winter he and his brother in law Albert Coyle went to Chewelah, WA and worked in a magnasite quarry. It was 30 degrees below zero and they finally quit and returned to the Bickleton.

Joe had married Agnes Coyle in 1940 at the Manse in Bickleton, WA where Dave and Debbie Whitmore live today, and had a baby girl, Barbara, born in Sept. 1942, before moving to Sand Ridge to farm his father’s farm in 1943. Baby boy Larry was born in 1944. He and Agnes farmed and socialized in the area till 1966 when Larry returned from two years in the army and started farming the place. Joe was soil conservation farmer of the year in 1959, Grange member, was on the school board, IOOF lodge member, and Pioneer Picnic president 1994. When Joe and Agnes moved to Sunnyside Les Amundson offered him a job at the hardware store which he accepted and worked there for 15 years until he retired at the age of 62.

Joe and Agnes are very social people and they liked to have friends over for a game of cards. They also loved to dance, they danced at country dances where his dad Dee Roberts played the fiddle a little later at dances in the Bickleton Grange Hall where they would have dances and his sisters Nellie Roberts Miller and Ethel Roberts Mains would play the fiddle and piano to tunes of the day. The kids would be asleep in the corner or also dancing. They continued dancing at the Senior Centers around the valley until it was one of them asleep in the corner.

Joe and Agnes traveled a lot in the U.S. usually taking a trip of some kind every year. While working at Amundsons just about every Friday night they would hook onto their camper and head for the Naches River to spend the weekend. They raised two children, Barbara and Larry. Barbara passed away from cancer in 2017. Joe is survived by his wife and caregiver Agnes, son Larry and his wife Marilyn, grandsons Jerry and Scott and their wives Regina and Joyce, great-grandsons Justin and his wife Molly, and also Troy, Sterling and Brandon Roberts.

Also survived by many nieces and nephews who Joe and Agnes kept in contact with from the Roberts, Mains, Miller, Shotwell and Coyle families.

At Joe’s request there will be no formal funeral but a family only interment at a later date. Those wishing to sign Joe’s online memorial book may do so at www.funeralhomesmith.com. Smith Funeral Homes is in care of arrangements.