Pearl Roberson, longtime DPS social worker, dies at 79

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News
Pearl Roberson

Pearl Roberson, a longtime Detroit Public Schools social worker and supervisor who helped assist and mentor students over more than two decades of service to school children, died Tuesday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. She was 79.

Roberson worked at DPS for 26 years starting in the early 1970s, much of it at Central High School and Renaissance High School, her family said. She later became a social work supervisor overseeing other social workers in the district.

In 1967, she married Dalton A. Roberson, who would later become a Third Circuit Court judge, and they raised two children in Detroit's Sherwood Forest neighborhood.

Roberson was born Pearl Janet Stephens in Indianola, Mississippi, on May 23, 1939, the youngest of seven children. After the death of her mother, she moved to Detroit and graduated from Mumford High School, only to return south to attend Tougaloo College in Mississippi, where she earned a bachelor's degree in social work and philosophy. She returned to Detroit, and received a master's of social work at Wayne State University.

She was a longtime member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the Detroit Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. and the WAGS Bridge Club. Much of her free time was spent on the golf course, her family said.

Upon retirement, the Robersons moved to Diamondhead, Mississippi, in the late 1990s, then returned in 2015 to be closer to their children.

Roberson is survived by her husband Dalton A. Roberson Sr., whom she was married to for 51 years; a daughter, Portia Roberson, head of Detroit's Office of Human Rights; a son, Dalton Roberson Jr.; granddaughters, Avery and Harper Roberson; a sister, Bessie (Babs) Barefield and other relatives.

The viewing for Roberson will be held on Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Swanson Funeral Home, 14751 West McNichols Road in Detroit. Family hour will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, 5050 St. Antoine Street in Detroit. This will include a Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Omega service. Funeral services are to follow at 11 a.m.

(313) 222-2620