Roberta Opal Wright Rylander, a longtime resident of Katy, passed from this life into eternal life with her Lord and savior Jesus Christ on Sunday, May 5, 2013 in Katy, Texas at the age of 93 years.
Roberta Opal Wright Rylander was born on March 31, 1920, in Houston, Texas, to John Henry Wright and Pauline Dorothy Schlipf Wright. Her father, John, his brother, Wilbur, and their parents drove their team of horses and wagon from Missouri in 1898 looking for a healthier climate for Wilbur. The family stayed in Katy to farm and later started a drug store.In 1904, Mr. J.H. Wright and Dr. Stewart formed a partnership opening a drugstore with Dr. Stewart's office next door.
As a young girl, Roberta attended both elementary and high school in Katy, and was part of the 29 member Katy High School graduation class of 1936. After high school, she attended the University of Texas in Austin and graduated in 1940 with a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and was a Registered Pharmacist in Texas since 1941.
Soon after resettling in her hometown, Mrs. Rylander became active in the Katy community. One of her first volunteer projects was placing flags on the graves of veterans in Katy Magnolia Cemetery, a project that her mother Pauline started years before and a project she continued to do at her own time and expense year-after-year until the late 1990’s, when the Katy V.F.W. Post 9182 began assisting her. After several years, she turned the project over to the post.
On November 27, 1943, Roberta married Fred A. Rylander in Katy, Texas.
She is probably best known for her dedication to preserving Katy's history. Mrs. Rylander was instrumental in establishing the Katy Heritage Society, and donated both her parents' home and the post office that her family owned to the society. Through her unwavering efforts, many generations will come to know the early years of Katy with a visit to the park. Mrs. Rylander has also written and published two books on Katy's history including Applauding the Past on Katy, Texas and Dr. Stewart Dear Sir.
Mrs. Rylander was a devoted member of the First United Methodist Church in Katy since 1932, where she taught Sunday school and sang in the Chancel Choir for many years. She wrote the history of the church and did the research to acquire the State Historical marker for the church.
As a member of the City of Katy Board, she helped write by-laws for the City of Katy and also did the research to acquire the State Historical markers for the city.
Mrs. Rylander was also a teacher. She taught school in Magnolia, Texas, in Beeville, Texas, and in Miami, Florida. Her volunteer work has also included helping schools in Katy. She worked for many years as a volunteer for the Katy PTA and was a Life Member of the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers. For her dedication to education and volunteer service to her community, Katy Independent School District named an elementary school in her honor. Roberta W. Rylander Elementary School was opened in the fall of 2004. Mrs. Rylander had special love for the students and staff of the school and truly enjoyed visiting and volunteering at the school.
Mrs. Rylander was twice president of the Katy Literary Club and a member since 1953. She was a charter member and first president of the Katy Historical Society, chairman of the Tri-County Bicentennial Commission from 1975-1977, as well as a member and past historian of the Katy High School Alumni Association. She was also a member of the Alexander Love Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and was an active member of the American Girl Scouts since 1955.
In May 2003, Rylander was named Senior Citizen of the Year, recognizing her many years of community service in Katy.
She loved to travel and traveled on each of the seven continents, as well as all of the 50 states. She enjoyed family, reading, handwork, sewing, cross stitch, needle point and recording news for scrap books. She loved church and most of all her Savior Jesus Christ. During her last years, she enjoyed and looked forward to birthdays, holidays and weekly trips to Chick-fil-a.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Fred Anthony Rylander, on June 5, 2001, and by her daughter, Carolyn Sue Rylander on June 10, 1995; by her parents, John Henry Wright and Pauline Dorothy Schlipf Wright, and by her brother, John Henry Wright.
She is survived by her son, Fred A. “Tony” Rylander, Jr. and his wife, Waldean of Katy; her granddaughters, Paula Emilie Schumann and her husband, John of Austin, Lynette Carole Gillis and her husband, John of Austin, and Karen Michelle Yeager and her husband, Nathan of Houston. She is also survived by her great-grandchildren, Emma, Lilah and Maxwell Schumann of Austin, Jack, Rylan, Caroline and Mary Claire Gillis of Austin, and Callie, Harlo, Grant and Carter Yeager of Houston; and by her sister-in-law, Arlee Barton of Burnet, Texas; and nieces, nephews, and special friends in Katy too numerous to mention all.
The family will receive friends from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, 2013, at the Schmidt Funeral Home Chapel in Katy. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, at the First United Methodist Church in Katy, with Rev. Marlin Fenn and Rev. Pamela Cline officiating. Interment will follow in Katy Magnolia Cemetery.
Those wishing to make memorial gifts may do so to the First United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 925, Katy, Texas 77492-0925, or to the Katy Heritage Society, P.O. Box 359, Katy, Texas 77492-0359.
Funeral services held under the direction of Schmidt Funeral Home, 1508 East Avenue, Katy, Texas 77493; 281-391-2424.