Marsha Lynn Roberts-Blethen was born on July 2nd, 1947 in Kearney, Nebraska and passed away peacefully on Tuesday, November 17th, 2020.
To say Marsha lived an interesting and impactful life would be an understatement; she was an exceptional person! She left home at age 19 determined to make her way in the world. As far back as anyone can remember she always had a plan and a passion to love and protect children; especially vulnerable children, and that’s exactly what she did.
After moving to Louisville, KY, earning a Bachelor’s degree in social work from Spalding University (class of 1979) and spending several years with Vocational Rehab, Marsha became the Director for the Emergency Shelter at Home of the Innocents where she served the community for 8 years (1979-1987).
She then joined the State of Kentucky’s Cabinet for Health and Human Services’ Child Protective Services (1987-2012). During her time with Child Protective Services (CPS) she had many accomplishments. She supervised the largest child protective services unit of on-going services and was the leader for implementing and opening Neighborhood Place services so all families had access to available services where they lived. She worked with Metro Louisville Government and Jefferson County Public Schools to create a multi-system approach to protecting children and was the first manager to lead drug court’s Sobriety Treatment and
Recovery Teams (START). These teams collaborated with Family Court and Substance Abuse partners, which allowed parents at-risk of losing custody of their children due to addiction, the opportunities for treatment and services in order to stabilize and support children with their family, when possible.
She single-handily developed the file system to track child protection cases still used to this day. She could tell you in detail how CPS’ TWIST system came into fruition, which has its own mythology within the L&N building. During severe emergencies such as a child death in State’s care, co-workers sought her leadership and guidance in those difficult times. She also found time to consult and assist the State of Tennessee with improving Child Protective Service practices. She worked in a part-time role five years after “retirement” and would have continued to work in some capacity, if not for her declining health. Marsha was known to coworkers as being practical, pragmatic, straight-forward and always having high expectations and a work plan throughout her years of service.
Marsha not only loved and protected children in her work life, loving and protecting children was a part of her own life’s work. She fully raised, partially raised and/or guided sixteen children over the years; her biological son, John C. Bruggman, seven adopted children; five foster children; and three stepchildren, which in and of itself is an extraordinary feat of love, strength, determination and perseverance.
Marsha loved to crochet, build dollhouses, garden, collect miniatures, watch investigative detective and HGTV shows, organize, read mystery novels and she especially enjoyed connecting on the phone with her work family. Many of her co-workers are her dearest friends. Although Marsha struggled with the impact cancer had on her health during the twilight years of her life she will always be remembered as strong, determined and having a fierce love for her children.
We love you Mom/Nanny/Marsha!
Marsha is survived by her loving children, John C. Bruggman, R. Christian Bruggman, Larry Roberts-Blethen, step-children, Michael Hood, Jr., Teresa Hawkins and Paul Hood (Deanna); grandchildren, LaTrea N. Bruggman, Kelli M. Bruggman, Cody Hawkins, Collin Hood, Jordan Hawkins, Kyle Hood, Parker Hawkins, Brandon Bruggman, Sean Hawkins, Jack Bruggman, one honorary grandchild, Jailyn Coleman; and great granddaughter, Brya Kellam; and a host of foster and adopted children.
Marsha is preceded in death by her sister, Marianne Schmitt and husband, Michael J. Hood.
She is survived by her siblings John Roberts, David Roberts, Linda Hird (twin sister) and Lori Hallock.
The family requests contributions in Marsha’s memory be made to St. Johns Center for Homeless Men (700 East Muhammad Ali Blvd, Louisville, KY 40202).
***The funeral service will be live streamed at: www.veercast.com/marshalrobertsblethen/
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