School 09

Roberta (Rao) Powers

June 3, 1942 ~ June 11, 2020 (age 78)

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Roberta“Bobbie” (Rao) Powers

Bobbie Powers, 78, a longtime Harvard resident, passed away peacefully on Thursday, June 11th. At the time of her passing, Bobbie was surrounded by her children.

Bobbie was born in Pittsburgh, PA, on June 3, 1942, to Frank Rao and Ida (Perri) Rao and graduated from Moon Township High School, where she was the May Queen, cheerleading captain, and friend to all. She graduated from John Robert Powers School of modeling before a successful career with United Airlines as a stewardess and later a lead trainer.  Bobbie was fortunate enough to travel around the world and experience cultures and traditions that she later shared with any audience that she could corner.

As one of United’s best, she was selected to represent the airline as a flight attendant on many professional sports team charters.  On one of the charter flights, she met the love of her life, John Powers. At the time, he was a tight end for Bobbie’s hometown Pittsburgh Steelers. They were married on June 19, 1964, in Coraopolis, PA at St. Joseph’s Church.  After John retired from professional football, Bobbie, John, and their children moved to Harvard and found the perfect community for their young family. Bobbie discovered her life’s passion at the Diggins Library as a children’s librarian.  Working with all ages from toddlers, helping them learn to read,  high schoolers, assisting with papers to seniors in the community who needed a special place to belong.  One testament to her impact was being selected by Harvard High School students to give their graduation’s commencement address. Bobbie proudly served on committees and foundations too numerous to mention.  Although she valued them all, nothing filled her heart with joy like working with children. 

Bobbie’s infectious laugh could be heard for miles.  Her ability to turn perfect strangers into friends by asking, “And where are your people from… originally?”  She found the best in everyone and never let others say otherwise without admonishing them, “THAT is someone’s mother or someone’s brother”.  Bobbie was a giver, sometimes to a fault.  She’d take her last $20 to buy a book for someone or even give them a bottle of salad dressing from her pantry if she thought they needed it. Don’t be fooled by her kind heart, she was as tough as they come when advocating for the less fortunate. Neighborhood kids would say, “my dad can beat up your dad,” her children simply responded, “my mom can beat up your dad,” which ended the debate. 

Bobbie is survived by her three children: Phalynn Powers of New Orleans, LA, John Paul Powers of Franklin, TN; and Richard (Kristi) Powers of Bondurant, IA, and her seven grandchildren: Kennedy Powers, Theiss Sagues, Elizabeth Powers, Olivia Powers, Brody Sagues, John Powers, and Erin Powers.

She is survived by her sister, June (John) Termini of MacLean, VA and four brothers: Paul (Martina) Rao; Frank (Suzanne) Rao of Pittsburgh, PA; David (Mary Ann) Rao of Elkins, WV; Joe (Helen) Rao of Philadelphia, PA. She was preceded in death by her husband, John Paul Powers January 12, 1978.

Due to the pandemic, a private memorial service will be held, followed by burial at St. Joseph’s Catholic Cemetery in Harvard. Deacon Tony Koss, a long time family friend to Bobbie and incredible role model for the children, officiated the service.

A celebration of life will be scheduled for the fall both in Harvard, IL, and Coraopolis, PA, details to follow. In true Bobbie style, in lieu of flowers, she would have insisted you buy them for your mother. If you feel compelled, please make a donation to the Harvard Diggins Library at or contact the library at 815-943-4671for assistance.

Henry David Thoreau:

If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.

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