Rotary International

Boyd Keem Roberts Obituary

Boyd Keem Roberts, 96, of Cedar Hill, Texas passed away on Monday, October 14, 2013 at Charleton Methodist Hospital. He returned home in spirit and love to the arms of his parents: Arthur Emory Roberts and Helen Crichton Roberts; five brothers: Joseph, Dwight, Paul Grant, and Lowell; son-in-law John Wood; and his beloved wife, Evelyn Lawver Roberts. Boyd is survived by their daughters: Katherine Wood, Connie Steger, and Debra Roberts; son-in-law Howard Steger; grand-children: Tamara and Max Beatty, Scott Steger and Tiffany Russell, Matt and Jennifer Wood, Rachel and Justin Nicholas, and Sarah and David Kelly; great-grandchildren: Jackson Wood, Skyler Lewis, Quinton Wright, Taylor Wood, James Wood, Evelyn Kelly and Mason Wood; and nephews Roger Roberts and Crichton Roberts.
Boyd was born on the family ranch in Oberlin, Kansas. He graduated at the age of 16 from Oberlin High School. Growing up in the Great Depression, he learned early to work hard and save, always cherishing family and friends over possessions, and presenting a life of helping others as his guide. In his own words, as a child growing up, he "lived in an environment of no swearing, honesty, truthfulness, consideration and care for all people, with particular respect for his elders." Known as a true gentleman, he played the perfect host to all no matter what the occasion or location. For example, only minutes after his last major heart event, he was more concerned about everyone else, making sure all were comfortable and had a place to sit in the ER. Boyd left the ranch in 1935, moving to Cass County, Nebraska where he lived with family and worked on their farm. Later, he became employed by Sutherland Lumber Company, a decision which shaped his life for years to come. Working there for the next 37 years, his career included a journey from unloading train cars to designing, supervising the construction of and managing several sites for this nationwide retail lumber firm, running a post-n-pole operation, cruising (counting and choosing) timber in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and designing and building various warehouses and barns, many of which are still being used and the plans for sold today. Throughout his career, he moved his family numerous times, including homes in Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Colorado, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Texas. However, because of his strong belief in education, he never moved his family until the school year was ended. In 1940, Boyd married the love of his life. She stood always by his side no matter where life took them, only being separated by her death in 1987. Boyd never remarried.
As it did many young men of his generation, World War II impacted his life. It interrupted his college career where he had amassed two years of study in architecture. Influenced by this and his knowledge of construction, Boyd became a Navy Seabee. During his military service, from 1942 to 1945, he served in the Aleutian Islands and the Pacific Theater. His last area of occupation was at the Battle of Okinawa. Following the American victory, he tells that his unit was preparing to invade Japan when the decision was made to use the atomic bomb. Boyd returned home to his wife and a first child whom he had never seen.
In 1938, as a young man, Boyd became a Christian. That choice was to influence the rest of his life. It led him to meeting Evelyn at the South Side Presbyterian Church where they were later married. Every time the family moved, the first thing they did was look for a new church home- sometimes Presbyterian, sometimes Methodist, but always family-oriented. Usually the decision was based on which church had the best Sunday School for his three daughters. His children being raised in the church was most important to him. He went on to teach various Sunday Schools, sing in the choir, and to be an Elder or a Deacon. In each place he left his mark, leading to First Presbyterian Church of Plattsmouth, Nebraska where he, as an Elder on the Building and Grounds committee, supervised the demolition of the old church building and the auctioning of its components. His last main work there was to design and supervise the construction of the bell tower for the new church, including the removal of the old bell from the previous church, and mechanizing the system for controlled ringing.
Two other organizations were most important to Boyd. As a member of the Scottish Rite, a part of Freemasonry, he attained the rank of 32 Degree. Only one other rank is higher. He was also a member of the Plattsmouth Rotary Club, a non-profit group that shares a passion for both community service and friendship. Through both he enjoyed the camaraderie, the teachings and the opportunity to help others.
Throughout his lifetime, Boyd's interests remained varied. He designed and built houses for himself, his family, and clients; painted in oils, mostly scenes influenced by early memories of his Kansas home; enjoyed working with wood, building furniture for the house and toys for the grandkids …. like four-story Barbie houses for the girls and barns for the boys; planted, harvested and sold hay using an antique 1952 International pickup and a very old John Deer tractor; and loved to fish both fresh and salt water. Boyd was also known for never throwing anything away. Because of the time of his upbringing, everything was precious and reusable. Screws, nails, pieces of lumber and everything else he could imagine a use for - all found their way into a corner to be saved and recycled.
Boyd was always a fastidious dresser. He took great pride in wearing suits and coordinated shirts and ties. From his mother and her Indian lineage, he inherited beautiful hair which he spent much time styling. Later, however, his Kansas upbringing and his love for all things western influenced him to dress in his favorite outfit - denim jeans, snapper shirts, and cowboy boots and hat. It is the look that will always be remembered.
For over 30 years Boyd wintered in Brownsville, Texas where he could escape the Nebraska snow and cold. He loved crossing the Rio Grande River into Mexico to shop and drive to Boca Chica beach to fish. He had many friends there and was famous for his pies whose pastry he made from scratch and which he served at the weekly potluck.
A Memorial service for Boyd will be held at First Presbyterian Church Duncanville on Saturday, November 16, 2013 at 11:00 am. Burial will be held at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. Date and time will be announced later. Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church Duncanville, First Presbyterian Church of Plattsmouth, Nebraska or the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

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Published online on November 4, 2013 courtesy of aCremation.

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