Rebecca Roeber, the state lawmaker known for her advocacy of school choice, has died. The Republican legislator from Lee’s Summit passed away in her sleep on Tuesday morning.
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend, and a beloved colleague of the members of the House, Rebecca Roeber,” House Speaker Elijah Haahr told The Missouri Times.
“It’s a terrible loss. She was making so much progress in her recovery. She was working so hard at rehab. I feel so bad for her family. My wife and I will continue to pray for the Roebers,” Sen. Mike Cierpiot told The Missouri Times.
Prior to being an elected official, Roeber spent 17 years as an educator in the Raytown district. She was first elected to the Missouri House in 2014 and was re-elected in 2016 and 2018. Roeber was the chair of the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education.
Each year in the legislature, the former teacher advocated for expanding charter schools in order to improve the education landscape in the state. During the 2019 session, Roeber’s charter school expansion proposal made it onto the House calendar but ultimately stalled out.
“Even under tremendous pressure, Representative Roeber stood firm in her beliefs. Throughout her life, she taught and advocated for students so that our state might be a little bit better tomorrow than it was yesterday,” House Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo said. “[Roeber]’s legacy will live on through those students and her family, whom she loved dearly.”
“She was a truly wonderful person and a dedicated public servant who will be greatly missed. As a former teacher and then as a member of the House, Rebecca had a passion to see our children learn and develop the tools to succeed in life. She will forever be remembered for being a champion for Missouri’s students,” Haahr said. “I join many others in praying for her loving husband and family during this difficult time.”
A serious car accident sidelined Roeber for the second half of the 2019 regular session and she had been working towards recovery for the last several months. She had just recently returned home.
While driving to Jefferson City on March 25, the junior legislator was involved in a two-car collision near Syracuse. She suffered 18 broken bones and was in critical condition for weeks.
From her rehabilitation facility in June, Roeber announced her intention to run for a fourth term in the Missouri House.
Roeber was 61 years old.
Saddened at the passing of Rep. Rebecca Roeber. She was a dedicated public servant — 5yrs in the House and 17yrs as an educator in Raytown. Her dedication to public service was only eclipsed by her compassion for others. Please keep her husband Rick and family in your prayers. pic.twitter.com/sReEpfvaxb
— Governor Mike Parson (@GovParsonMO) July 30, 2019
.@RebeccaRoeber was a principled fighter for the causes she believed in. She didn’t hesitate to take on a challenge and was greatly respected for it by her colleagues. She will be missed in #MOLeg. Praying for her husband, family and friends today.
— Caleb Rowden (@calebrowden) July 30, 2019
I have know @RebeccaRoeber since I did her photography in her first campaign. She was a kind-hearted person and Representative who was passionate about those in her district who needed extra support. Her passing is truly sad, and she will be greatly missed.
— Mark Siettmann (@MarkSiettmann) July 30, 2019
Heartbroken by the loss of my friend and colleague Rebecca Roeber. She was a relentless fighter for Missouri’s kids and for her constituents. She will be dearly missed.
— Shamed Dogan (@Dogan4Rep) July 30, 2019
I’m saddened to hear of the passing of my colleague, Representative Rebecca Roeber. Wishing her family and loved ones well during this difficult time.
— Greg Razer (@gregrazer) July 30, 2019
So sad to hear about the loss of @RebeccaRoeber. I thoroughly enjoyed working with her as she fought for the kids of Missouri.
— Michael Harris (@MichaelHarrisMO) July 30, 2019
Saddened to hear about the passing of one of our #moleg colleagues, Rebecca Roeber. Her courage to tackle tough issues won’t be forgotten.
— Dave Schatz (@DaveSchatz26) July 30, 2019
Alisha Shurr was a reporter for The Missouri Times and The Missouri Times Magazine. She joined The Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University.