Her Life

Memorializing the Extrodinary Life of Roho Shinda

Roho Shinda made her transition on Friday, August 12th, 2011 at St. Johns Health Center in Santa Monica California.

Roho was born Thelma Artherine Westfield , on February 9th, 1919 in Van Buren, Arkansas to William and Ora Westfield, she was the 9th of 11 children and a twin arriving in 2nd place of her sibling Velma.  

Roho and her late husband Fundi Shinda aka Charles Patillo were wed in Reno, Nevada in 1942 where the start of their family began. Roho was preceded in death by her parents, William and Ora Westfield, her 10 sibling’s, Ruby Buchanan, Vivian Ware, William Westfield aka Brother, Freda Thomas, Grace Brown, Paul Westfield, Elizabeth Johnson, Velma Hogan, Wayman Westfield, Calvin Westfield, her husband Fundi Shinda, daughter Faye Dell Eagans and a host of many other relations.

Queen Mother Roho is survived by her son Vaughn Patillo, daughters Patricia Joan Patillo aka Trish Turner and Toni Patillo. Grandchildren include Vaughn Patillo, Jr., Terri Patillo, Sherri Patillo, Kelli Eagans, Jesse Eagans, Becki Eagans-Rance, Michael Patillo, Trenita Patillo-Bellard, Ayana Patillo-Jackson, Great Granchildren include, Kishawn Eagans, Vaughn Patillo III, Stephan Patillo, Bjorn Patillo, Iyana Patillo, Camile Smith, Rachel Barrymon, Henry Rance III, Andrea Rance, Jaemillah Suzanne Marie Eagans, Jordan Eagans, Great Great Granchildren include Azariah Patillo, Zakahia Patillo and Nia Jackson. Nephews include Joe Walter Westfield, Dr. Kenneth C. Westfield, David Westfield, Albert Brown and Jerry Buchanan and nieces Dr. Gwen Ball, Barbara Jetty and a host of additional cousins, nieces, nephews and friends. 

We celebrate today the full and productive life of this remarkable woman. 



ROHO SHINDA (aka Thelma Patillo) Biography

When Madelyn Dunham, President-Elect Barack Obama’s grandmother, died on November 2nd, 2008, he later recalled her as “one of those quiet heroes we have across America, who aren’t famous...Their names aren’t in the newspapers.”  In many ways, President-Elect Obama could have been describing the ninety two year old civil rights activist from Yakima, Washington, Roho Shinda, whose determination and commitment to equality forged her pathway in many activities for social change in the Pacific Northwest.   

 As remembered by Supreme Court Justice, William O. Douglas, in his memoir of his early years Roho’s struggle for employment and residential equality was one of his first lessons in the discrimination that black families faced.   Roho, a licensed California real estate broker, was encouraged to move to Yakima by a local established agent who felt she was qualified for a position.  However upon arrival to accept the post that had all but been offered to her and her black identity revealed, she was denied the job.  This was not her first experience with racism or the last.  But all of her battles made her stronger and more committed to participating in a shared struggle for justice. 

 The activism that Roho and her husband Fundi Shinda (aka Charles Patillo) made a part of their lives led to the formation of The Afro-American Players of Yakima, Washington, a non-profit educational and cultural center that taught and enlightened local youngsters in the rural Yakima area about their rich and diverse history and culture. After much encouragement and diligent work the newly formed group created and performed a theatrical play entitled "The Soul Show." This production was one of the most successful components of their multi-faceted enterprise. Participating in this activity gave youth several unique experiences:

· The first glimpse of new cultural and political images of themselves.

· The first opportunity to expose and express themselves creatively and artistically to an audience.

· The first opportunity to learn by doing.

            They also initiated a program of self-determination by continuing many other activities never before tried in the community. They made appearances at almost every university and college campus in the state of Washington, the University of Montana, and the University of British Columbia. The Players even performed at numerous educational and correctional institutions as well as on commercial and public television.

           Roho was an inspiration and educator all of her adult life. Her legacy is a part of the history of the Yakima Valley as well as the nation’s fight for equality. After the death of her husband who passed in 1990, Roho continued to stretch herself and stay abreast of crucial world issues.  In 2001, she attended the World Conference against Racism in Durban, South Africa that was organized under the auspices of the United Nations. 

 A journey of forty-one years plus as an activist in the struggle for civil rights, Roho’s life wa stimulated and preserved by participating in the monumental historic events of these times, and she was honored and ecstatic to bear witness to America’s decision of electing its first African-American president.