Roberta (Bert) DeVries, a longtime resident of Southampton, PA and Ocean City, NJ, passed away on February 1, 2023, after a brief illness.
Bert was born to Robert and Mable Grunert on August 19, 1935, and was raised in Bradford, PA.
Bert graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Relationships from the College of Human Ecology at Cornell University, where she met her future husband John DeVries. On graduation day in June of 1957, John earned his diploma in Chemical Engineering and was commissioned as Ensign in the United States Navy. Two months later, on August 31, 1957, Bert and John were married. Following their wedding, they lived in Newport, RI where John started his tour of duty with the US Navy as Engineering Officer of the USS Turner. In 1957, Bert began her twenty-year career in early childhood education as a kindergarten teacher. After retiring from teaching, she began volunteering as a docent at the Philadelphia Zoo. This led to a position as the Zoo’s Travel Planner and Program Coordinator, allowing the opportunity for Bert to lead tours all over the world. She was extremely passionate about the conservation of animals and shared that passion with friends across the globe in her travels, always coming back with new stories to share after each adventure. Bert’s favorite destinations included India, Africa, and the Galápagos Islands.
Relationships meant everything to Bert, and she maintained a large and much treasured circle of friends from all age groups and backgrounds. Some friendships stretch back to her days at Bradford High School and Cornell, while others developed more recently from her many varied interests including duplicate bridge, mahjongg, and book club. Giving back was incredibly important to Bert and that was evident in her extensive volunteer roles at The Wetlands Institute, Friends of the Ocean City Pops, The Ocean City Public Library, The Philadelphia Zoo, and Cornell University. She held the title of Vice President for the Cornell Class of 1957, serving for over 20 years as a key leader in the class’s campaign fundraising and reunion efforts. A lover of the Arts, Bert also frequented concerts and Broadway shows, often spontaneously befriending fellow patrons while in line or during intermission. In addition, she was an avid Philadelphia sports fan (E-A-G-L-E-S!), reminding everyone “Sundays are
for the birds!” and making it a priority to catch the Phillies during Spring Training in Clearwater, FL, where she spent time in the winter.
Bert, a loving mother and grandmother, is survived by her sons, Robert John (Christine), and Peter William, and grandchildren, Alexandria (Robert) DeVries Greer, Taylor DeVries, Danielle DeVries, and Ryan DeVries.
Bert was preceded in death by her husband John in 2014, and her close companion Don Richardson in 2019. The family is planning a celebration of life, which will be announced when a date is chosen.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that contributions be made in her memory to: The Roberta Grunert DeVries ’57 Scholarship at Cornell Human Ecology (P.O. Box 37334, Boone, IA 50037-0334) or to the John and Roberta DeVries Research Fund of The Wetlands Institute (www.wetlandsinstitute.org).