Lucimarian Roberts, GMA's Robin Roberts' mother, dies

August 31, 2012 9:59:14 AM PDT
'GMA' host Robin Roberts' mother has passed away at the age of 88, just hours after Robin said goodbye to the show to take a medical leave of absence.

Roberts exited 'Good Morning America' to have a bone-marrow transplant from her sister Sally-Ann Roberts.

Roberts traveled home to Mississippi and made her way through flooded and blocked roads to be with her beloved ailing mother just in time.

Lucimarian Tolliver Roberts was the first African American to head Mississippi's board of education.

She was passionate about music and the written word and even authored a book titled, "My Story, My Song," which Robin Roberts collaborated on.

"I sing because the music of the church speaks my soul language. I sing because these songs are tightly woven in to the texture of who I am," she wrote in her book.

Robin Roberts' last day on "Good Morning America" before leave was originally going to be Friday.

Robin Roberts told viewers in July that she has MDS, a blood and bone marrow disease once known as preleukemia.

But looking further ahead, Roberts noted she is luckier than many workers who become ill. She says her bosses have been generous in giving her the needed time off, and her job is waiting for her when she's well enough to return. She described herself as "very blessed."

"See you later. See you soon. I'll get back as soon as I can," she promised at the close of her emotional send-off from the show Thursday.

During her absence, a number of famous faces will be subbing for her, including previously announced fellow ABC News colleagues Katie Couric, Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer and Elizabeth Vargas.

In addition, Roberts announced that Oprah Winfrey, Chris Rock and Rob Lowe will be among the stand-ins, as well as the cast of the ABC comedy "Modern Family."

But two of Roberts' on-air colleagues couldn't be there, thanks to the demands of breaking news.

From New Orleans, weather anchor Sam Champion voiced warm wishes, as did co-anchor George Stephanopoulos from the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla. He had left behind a gift for Roberts: a tap bell.

"Whatever you need, whenever you need it, ring that bell," he said.

With her and news anchor Josh Elliott in the studio, lifestyle anchor Lara Spencer presented Roberts with monogrammed matching pajamas for her and her sister.

"We're not crying tears of sadness," she told Roberts. "We're crying because we wish we could take this on for you."

One of Roberts' doctors, Dr. Gail Roboz, discussed the medical procedures that lie ahead.

"We're hoping the first 30 (days) is when we're going to see a lot of the recovery happening," said Roboz.

But Roberts replied, "I'm not even going to ask you when I can come back, because you have said, don't put a timetable on it."

Roberts, who has put a brave and usually smiling face on the challenges that await her, shared with viewers an inspirational quote: "Life provides losses and heartbreak for all of us. But the greatest tragedy is to have the experience, and miss the meaning."

Said Roberts, "I am determined not to miss that meaning."

As the program neared its end, the entire "GMA" crew gathered around the anchors' couch, displaying bracelets of support and bearing signs that promoted the "teamrobin" Twitter account.

Then Roberts' friend, country star Martina McBride, performed her Grammy-nominated song "I'm Gonna Love You Through It," an inspirational song about battling breast cancer. Looking on, Roberts mouthed the lyrics as her eyes welled with tears.

During the morning, the word "journey" had been mentioned repeatedly and "goodbye" was said in many ways.

"I take you with me in my heart," said Roberts at one point, addressing the full "GMA" staff. But wanting there to be no mistake, she added: "I WILL be back, just so you know."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Load Comments