Missouri state Rep. Rebecca Roeber, a Republican from Lee's Summit, died Tuesday in her sleep.
Doug Thaman, the executive director of Missouri Charter Schools Association, confirmed Roeber's death to KCUR. Missourinet reported that she was on vacation in Colorado.
Roeber was in her third term in the House, had backed charter school expansion and was the vice chairman of the Elementary and Secondary Education committee.
In March, Roeber fell asleep at the wheel of her car and was seriously injured, with the Kansas City Star reporting that she broke 18 bones. But she was recovering, and told the Missouri Times in April that there were “issues I am not done with,” and that she not only planned to return to the Capitol for the 2020 legislative session, but also announced on Facebook that she was running for re-election.
Missouri Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr issued a statement on Twitter, saying Roeber “had a passion to see our children learn and succeed in life.”
Rebecca Roeber was a wonderful person & public servant. As a teacher and a member of the #MoLeg, Rebecca had a passion to see our children learn & succeed in life. She will be remembered as a champion for Missouri’s students. I am praying for her husband & family during this time
— Elijah Haahr (@elijahhaahr) July 30, 2019
And Rep. Greg Razer, a Democrat from Kansas City, kept Roeber's family on his mind.
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
Roeber’s official legislative profile says she graduated from Shawnee Mission West High School in Overland Park, Kansas, and was a teacher in Raytown before being elected to the Missouri House in 2014.
Thaman worked closely with Roeber, describing her as warm, open, a good listener and deliberate.
“She was a classroom teacher for many years and then during her time in the House of Representatives she really championed passionately any issue that had to do with children and education,” he said.
Republican Sen. Mike Cierpiot, who represents eastern Jackson County, said Roeber had a heart of gold and wanted to improve outcomes for students in poor-performing schools.
“People just hold her in such high esteem. I think her legacy is going to be the efforts she made in education,” Cierpiot said. “I think she moved the ball down the road a lot.”
Cierpiot said he remembers watching Roeber going door-to-door introducing herself to voters.
“She had so many yard signs,” Cierpiot said. “People just loved her.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
Aviva Okeson-Haberman is the Missouri government and politics reporter at KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter: @avivaokeson.