Sunday, April 7, 2024

2024 Prompt - Achievement - Cleo Mrytie (Martin) Roberson

Nancy Simmons

          Howard Roberson – my husband

                    Cleo Myrtie (Martin) Roberson 1926-2021 – my mother-in-law

Cleo Myrtie (Martin) Roberson
1959 National Free-Style Archery Champion

Few of us can say that we have reached the achievement of a national championship but this is an accomplishment my mother-in-law was able to achieve.

Cleo Myrtie Martin
about three years old

Cleo Martin was born February 14, 1926, in the small town of Samaria, Michigan. She was born to Leo and Hazel Johnston Martin. She grew up surrounded by many cousins and attended the Samaria Methodist Church which her great-grandmother donated the land for in 1885. She attended school at the schoolhouse on the edge of town and then attended Dundee High School fifteen miles north of Samaria.

Cleo Myrtie Martin
High School Graduation picture

She met her husband Pete Roberson picking raspberries on her uncle’s farm near Samaria. Cleo and Pete both attended Dundee High School. Pete graduated in 1943 and Cleo finished her senior year in 1944.

Cleo Martin and Pete Roberson
1947 Wedding photo

Cleo and Pete were married on August 2, 1947, at the small Methodist Church in Samaria where her mother in 1918 and grandmother in 1888 were also married. In November 1948 Cleo had her first of five children. By the time they had been married five years, Pete and Cleo had four children under their wings.

Roberson Family about 1958
Cleo, Howard, Beverly, Edwin, Keitha and Pete

It was in the 1950s that Pete and Cleo joined the Tomahawk Archery Club in Temperance Michigan. They shot archery every Sunday. Eventually, the family started to travel around the state to compete. As Pete and Cleo competed, their children learned to shoot and eventually, they were traveling around Michigan and the Midwest shooting in archery competitions.

It wasn't long till Cleo started to surface to the top of the competition with women in freestyle archery. In 1959, the national championship was held in Bend, Oregon.  Cleo, her husband/coach, and her parents packed up and camped as they traveled out west to Bend in the summer of 1959. There she won her first national championship.


1960 National Archery Championship
Cleo Roberson Champion & Gerry Bexten

Then in 1960, the National Archery Championship was held in her home state of Michigan. The family packed up and headed up north in Michigan to camp and compete for four days at Camp Graying. Here she competed to and defended her national title and won the 1960 National Free-Style Championship.

Roberson-Martin Tent at the 1960 National Championship
Howard Roberson, Pete Roberson, Cleo Roberson, Edwin Roberson Leo Martin & Hazel Martin

I often think about what it must take to be a national champion. Of course, it takes lots of practice and competition but what allowed Cleo to compete at that level? What does it take to be a national champion? How does one achieve such an accomplishment? It was the 1950s and not many females were competing in any type of competition. Many believed women could not deal with the stress and pressure of competitive sports at a high level. How does one in the peak of competition gather their nerves, focus, and concentrate to outscore their competitor?

Cleo Roberson 1960 National Freestyle Archery Champion
Defending 1959 National Champion

Just as we are all unique individuals, Cleo was a unique woman in her time. She married and raised five children, bow hunted with her husband, and competed at a national level in archery. In competition, she had the skill and ability to focus, gather her nerves, and compete against a high level of competitors to win two national championships. An accomplishment many of us can only dream of.


Pete and Cleo (Martin) Roberson

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