Jeanne Robertson, the beloved motivational speaker, humorist, and former Miss North Carolina, has died. Robertson unexpectedly passed away on Saturday, Aug. 21at the age of 77, according to her professional Facebook page. Robertson had reportedly been struggling “with a severe illness” in the days leading up to her death. Although a cause of death was not given, her team previously confirmed the illness she suffered from was “not Covid related.”
Robertson had done weekly Facebook Live Popups and Back Porch events. In her most recent videos, she had alluded to health issues, including in her final Facebook Live video on Aug. 7, which was filmed from her back porch at her home in North Carolina. In the days that followed that final Facebook Live appearance, a number of Robertson’s scheduled performances were canceled, including a performance in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In Facebook posts announcing those cancellations, Robertson’s team said the performances would be “rescheduled,” as Robertson had been “challenged with a severe illness, not Covid related, and will be unable to perform.”
“The Nashville People here. It is with a heavy heart that we want you to know that Jeanne has passed. She had some health challenges lately, but this was unexpected,” an Aug. 21 update on her Facebook page announced her passing. “We are sure – Jeanne is now telling stories in heaven, all the angels are laughing, and Left Brain is in the back with a big smile.”
Robertson’s career as a humorist in part began after she won became Miss North Carolina at age 19 and won Miss Congeniality at the 1963 Miss America pageant. Her pageant experience, combined with her 6-foot-2-inch frame “often provided fodder for her comedy routines, delivered in her Southern accent,” according to The News & Observer. In a career that spanned decades, Robertson served as a professional speaker as well as a humorist. She also wrote four books, the most recent being Don’t Bungee Jump Naked and Other Important Stuff. Robertson also frequently shared her humorous remarks on her YouTube channel, which recently received more than 114 million views.
Amid news of her passing, many of Robertson’s fans paid tribute to the late humorist. One person wrote, “Jeanne’s warmth, humor, friendship, spirit, love and zest for life will live forever in our hearts. We are all greatly blessed to have been touched by her gifts, and we will cherish her memory!” Somebody else said they were “so heartbroken,” going on to call Robertson “an American treasure.”
According to Robertson’s team, a celebration of life will be held at a later date, though details have not yet been announced. Robertson is survived by her son Beaver, and grandchildren Ryder and Gray. Her husband, Jerry Ray Robertson, died in June of this year.