Hazel Larsen Archer, Janet Heling Roberts at Black Mountain College, 1945. Silver gelatin print. BMCM+AC permanent collection. Gift of Janet Heling Roberts.

Janet Chloe Heling Roberts (Student 1943 – 1977, b. 1925 d. 2020)

Born in 1925 in Lindenhurst, New York, Jan became interested in Black Mountain College after reading a magazine article about the college in the summer of 1943. That September, she met BMC instructor Johanna Jalowetz, who encouraged her to apply for admission. Jan enrolled at the college on two separate occasions between 1943 and 1947. She majored in French, but took a wide variety of other courses with Robert Wunsch, David Corkran, Anni Albers, Josef Albers, Eric Bentley, and Alfred Kazin, whose course on Moby Dick she recalls was one of the finest classes she ever attended. She also enjoyed working on the farm with Molly Gregory. Jan met her husband, Richard Roberts, at BMC and they married on Oct. 3, 1947. 

Jan was an educator at heart and worked in early childhood education for many years. In the mid to late 1960s in Montana, she established and directed the first Head Start program on a Native American reservation. In the early 1980s, Jan and Richard built a log house near Superior, MT where they lived together with no electricity until Richard’s death in 2007. Afterward, Jan carried on alone there on the banks of Oregon Creek, amid the beauty of the natural world and with the support of her many friends and two children.