ROBERTA MARIE CUNNINGHAM STRAIGHT Sept. 7, 1940 – March 22, 2021
Roberta “Bobbye” Straight was born on September 7, 1940 in Amarillo, Texas and came with her family to Oklahoma where she grew up.
She graduated from Bartlesville’s College High School as a National Merit Scholar in 1958, received a Bachelor’s Degree from Kansas University in Lawrence, Kansas in 1962 and a Master’s Degree in English from Arizona University in Tucson, Arizona in 1967.
While attending KU, Bobbye married her husband of 59 years, Dr. James (Jim) William Straight, also from Bartlesville, OK, on August 12, 1961. The couple’s son William Herbert Straight was born while the couple was stationed at Sandia Base in Albuquerque, NM in 1967 and their daughter, Suzanne Straight (Miller) was born in Nashville, Tennessee in 1970.
Throughout her life, Bobbye was passionately devoted to education. She held a variety of higher education teaching positions, primarily focused on English, composition and literature. For several years, she and husband Jim were known for joint-teaching a writing course for engineering students at Christian Brother’s College in Memphis, TN. The students affectionately nicknamed Bobbye “The Terror of the Blue Pen” as a playful acknowledgement of her strict grading of their papers, always using blue ink.
Bobbye and her family settled in Los Alamos in 1977 where she would continue her teaching career through the University of New Mexico at Los Alamos. Her colleagues said of Bobbye that her kind demeanor and contagious enthusiasm made learning an exciting and joyful experience for her students and made working with her an absolute pleasure. A wonderful teacher, administrator, and collaborator, she contributed to the effectiveness of her own department (English), the Office of Instruction, the Library, and the campus as a whole.
After retiring in 2003, Bobbye was deeply honored to be asked to deliver the Convocation Address at the school’s graduation ceremony in 2005. She continued to serve on UNM-LA committees, assisting faculty with conference presentations, and inspiring the next generation of leaders. She has funded a number of initiatives at UNM-LA, including campus-beautification, library projects and summer programs for the youth/children’s college. She also initiated a giving legacy at UNM-LA by establishing what would later be named the Bobbye Straight Faculty Initiative Award, a fund which has provided more than 25 grants for faculty program development.
In addition to her work at UNM-LA, Bobbye took college-level computer programming classes and supported the USO, Salvation Army and the Los Alamos School of Gymnastics. She was a voracious reader and enjoyed gardening and family vacations to National Parks and the beach.
Bobbye is preceded in death by her parents Hazel (Hitch) and Robert Marshall Cunningham II, cousins Vernon “Johnny” Phillips, Lee Bob Phillips, and nephew, Richard Lloyd Cunningham.
She is survived by her husband Jim, son William, daughter Suzanne and her husband Timothy Miller, brother Robert Marshall Cunningham III and his wife Brenda, grandnephew Joshua Ryan Cunningham, cousins Andrew Evans, Jr. and Maxine (Phillips) Cooksey.
A memorial service will be planned for a later date when gatherings can be hosted more safely. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to UNM-LA Bobbye Straight Faculty Initiative Award (background). Mail to: 4000 University Drive, Los Alamos NM 87544, or go online at www.unmfund.org. Please designate checks or online gifts to the “UNM-LA Campus / Bobbye Straight Faculty Initiative Award.”
Roberta ‘Bobbye’ Marie Cunningham Straight in 1960. Courtesy photo
Bobbye and Jim Straight wedding photo taken Aug. 12, 1961. Courtesy photo
Bobbye Straight with her children William and Suzanne in 1971. Courtesy photo
Bobbye Straight speaking at the UNM-LA Convocation in 2005. Courtesy photo