The loss of Roberta Horton

I received  sad news this evening- the loss of a great quilt maker and one of the teachers who taught me how to quilt (after I taught myself- I started by making it up as I went along). She and her sister live/ed a few blocks from me. Pre-pandemic I used to run into them out taking walks in the neighborhood. I think I’ve only run into them once on my walk in the last year. Two years ago we were in the same BART car, on our way to the SFQG quilt show. We talked all the way from Berkeley to San Francisco. I learned most of what I know about Amish quilts from Roberta.
From President, EBHQ:
The sad news reached me today that our beloved Roberta Horton passed away Thursday afternoon, February 4th. I don’t have any more details at this time, but I want to reflect a moment on what a gift her life was to us.
It’s impossible to overstate her impact on our guild, on quilting nationwide and even worldwide. Roberta made her first quilt in 1972. She was an important bridge between the quilters of the Depression, who carried the craft with them for love through the post-war prosperity that suppressed the craft. Roberta caught the baton, and passed it to us. She was there, already teaching, when the Bicentennial revived interest in quilting. She taught the first state accredited adult education classes in quilting back in 1973! I know of a number of long-time Guild members who learned to quilt from Roberta. Roberta and her sister Mary Mashuta were EBHQ founding members.
Roberta stretched beyond tradition. There had been Story Quilts before of course, but her exploration of her European heritage through her quilts helped popularize the form. Her exploration of ethnic fabrics, and the design influences of artists worldwide helped make EBHQ in the early days, before the Studio Art Quilters Association (SAQA), a welcoming home for the burgeoning Art Quilt movement. And she taught all of this, through Albany Adult Education and beyond. She wrote 5 books on quilting, donated some of her most important quilts to the then new San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles, and was honored nationally and internationally.
She was also an avid gardener, and two years ago at the East Bay Mini Maker Faire I had the honor of teaching a Woman Of A Certain Age, who had known Roberta for decades from the Garden Club, how to piece a nine-patch, as we shared stories of our beloved friend from different contexts.
Roberta was unfailingly gracious, welcoming and kind to me, a much younger MAN, encouraging my sometimes strange quilts!
Keep her memory close, and I challenge YOU to challenge yourself, as SHE did; learn, this year, a new technique, use some unfamiliar fabric, and always, always, teach whomsoever you may.
“And gladly wolde she lerne, and gladly teche.” -slightly altered from Chaucer, “Canterbury Tales”
I have asked the Web Support Team to create a Forum Thread on the Discussion Board where we can share our memories of Roberta.
May her sister, Mary Mashuta, Be Comforted In Her Loss, along with all of Roberta’s family. And May Her Memory Be For A Blessing. I’ll pass memorial details as I get them.
You can read and remember at
– Ryan Young –
EBHQ President, 2020-2021
Roberta Horton: Quiltmaking Teacher - Author - Designer
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