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Roberta Hilbrandt

August 2, 1957 July 3, 2009
Roberta Hilbrandt
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Obituary for Roberta Hilbrandt

Roberta Hilbrandt, a resident of Brighton, died at home on Friday, July 3, 2009 in the care of her family after a courageous battle with cancer. She was 51 years old. Born on August 2, 1957 in Bay City, she was the daughter of Earl and Katie Woods. She graduated from Bay City Handy High School in 1975 and moved on from there in a direction that was to be a clear theme for her life: continual learning. Roberta decided to serve her country in the U.S. Air Force as a jet engine mechanic, mainly because people didn�t think she could do it. It was well after this point, however, that the real learning and real adventure began.
Roberta was a young, single mother working in Saginaw when she complained to a co-worker about the scarcity of good, decent men. The co-worker had a brother who seemed nice enough so she set up a meeting between the two. Bill Hilbrandt and Roberta were introduced at a restaurant in Saginaw on the 27th of December 1984. It was most certainly the fabled �love at first sight.� They were married on October 18, 1985. Over the next 24 years, Roberta relentlessly worked to transform Bill from a �narrow-world, techie geek� into a �diverse, wide-world-view geek.� And while history tells us that Roberta begged Bill to marry her, Bill readily acknowledges that �we Hilbrandt men always marry out of our league.�
Roberta, the lifelong student, really began to spread her wings. She soon earned an Associates Degree in Surgical Technology. Roberta then turned her creative energy toward art. The alchemy between the artist and the engineer seemed to work for both of them and their growing family. Roberta�s artistic interests, which began with photography and later included sculpture, water-colors, ceramics and jewelry, eventually found a true home when focused on hand made artistic books and book conservation. Roberta diligently pursued the passion as she studied at Hollander�s School of Book & Paper Arts in Ann Arbor and also at the American Academy of Bookbinding in Telluride, Colorado. In a world where books were becoming �old media� she saw the extraordinary value gained by making books that were objects of art, to be loved for permanence and beauty.
Roberta Hilbrandt was a driven and courageous woman who drew great strength of character from her closeness to nature, her belief in the human spirit and the love of family, friends and her menagerie. She was also an avid gardener and loved travel, most particularly to the twenty acres of paradise overlooking the Columbia River gorge near White Salmon, Washington that she and her husband own. They visited as often as possible. Through months of difficult treatments, a false remission and other setbacks with cancer, she remained committed to her family, her work and art. She also never stopped learning, taking her last courses in book arts as recently as April 2009. And though cancer took her life, it absolutely never conquered her spirit.
Roberta is survived by her husband, Bill, and by their sons and daughter; Mike (wife-to-be Monica Graves), Katie, Geoff and Alex and by her grandchildren, Dine� and Noah as well as her adored furry and feathered family (Shadow the dog, Miracle the cat, Sandy the bunny, Fuego the canary, eight chickens and numerous fish). Her parents, Earl and Katie Woods, sisters Shelly Biniecki, Jenny Bradford, a brother, Bill Woods and many nieces and nephews also survive; as do innumerable dear friends who join with her family in mourning her death and giving thanks for the life of this remarkable woman.
A Memorial Service will be held at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 600 East Main St. in Brighton on Wednesday, July 8, 2009, 11:00 AM. Pastor Dave McNeil, Oncology Chaplain at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor, will officiate. Friends may gather at the funeral home from 9:00 AM until the time of service. Memorials encouraged to American Academy of Bookbinders; c/o the Ah Haa School; Roberta Hilbrandt Memorial Scholarship; PO Box 1590; Telluride, CO 81435, and are deeply appreciated by the family. A scholarship will be established in Roberta�s memory. For further information call 810.229.2905.


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