Robert Truitt Maberry Sr., 89, a former longtime Fort Worth resident, dentist, banker and civic leader, passed away Tuesday, April 2, 2014, after a long struggle with the pitiless scourge of Alzheimer's disease. Funeral: 1:30 p.m. Monday in Greenwood Chapel. Interment: Greenwood Memorial Park. Memorials: In lieu of flowers, please consider contributions to the
, Texas Dental Association Smiles Foundations or First Central Presbyterian Church of Abilene. Robert was born Nov. 25, 1924, in the East Texas hamlet of Pritchett, the son of John and Maud Maberry. His forebears were yeoman farmers, small-time shopkeepers and schoolteachers. When Robert was 5, the family moved to nearby Gilmer, where his parents managed a dry goods store on the town square. Here in this self-sufficient Piney Woods environment, he grew to young manhood. His mother impressed upon young "Robert Truitt," as he was inevitably called, that education would be his ticket to success. She instilled in him an intellectual curiosity and love of learning that propelled him through life. Though the family was poor and struggled during the darkest days of the Great Depression, Robert made the best of things. To earn money, he worked at all sorts of occupations, from picking cotton to being a soda "skeet" at the local drugstore. During his years at Gilmer High School, he discovered he had a aptitude for music and picked up extra cash playing at dances around town. Robert was the first of his family to attend college, matriculating to East Texas State Teachers College (now Texas A&M at Commerce) at the tender age of 16 and graduating with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. He was admitted to both medical and dental school, but decided on dentistry because he received that acceptance first; it was a decision he never regretted. Attending the University of Texas
Dental College at Houston during the height of World War II
, he worked his way through school as a professional musician playing saxophone and clarinet in several large dance bands. In 1947 he was awarded a DDS degree. In August of that year, at age of 22, the now-Dr. Maberry set up his first dental practice upstairs in First National Bank of the small Central Texas railroad town of Teague. There he met and married on December 5, 1948, Joan Davis, daughter of the city marshal. Ten months later the first of four sons arrived. In 1950 the Korean Conflict
erupted and Dr. Maberry was called to active duty in the U.S. Navy
and ordered to San Diego. The young family made the long drive west and settled in the beautiful beach community of La Jolla. Stationed at the naval training center, Dr. Maberry proved a proficient and hard-working dental surgeon, winning promotion to lieutenant senior grade. Discharged in 1952, he decided he had had enough of small towns and decided to seek his fortune in Fort Worth. But rather than hang out his shingle in one of the many more "respectable" parts of town, he set up practice in a walk-up building near the then-notorious Fort Worth Stockyards between the Oasis Hotel and Fred's Pool Hall. In those days the Stockyards area was a rowdy place, featuring open gambling and other vices, along with a host of more respectable businesses. Here the small town East Texas boy found life both challenging and exhilarating. Dr. Maberry made lifelong friendships with many of the area's most colorful characters, among them gamblers, bankers, lawyers, doctors, Texas Rangers, cowboys, eastern European refugees and even several Holocaust survivors. He promised his wife, who quite naturally took a jaded view of these rollicking surroundings, that he would remain in the Stockyards only long enough to build up the capital to move to a more upscale location. But over time the area metamorphosed into a vibrant and respectable commercial center. Business boomed and expenses were low; his friendships and his dental practice flourished. Dr. Maberry never did see fit to relocate to the tonier digs as he had promised his wife. Instead he became a pillar of the North Side community. After nine years, in 1961 he built a free-standing dental clinic a block away where he happily labored until his retirement from dentistry in 2006. In all, Dr. Maberry practiced his beloved profession for more than 60 years. During this long and distinguished career, he held almost every elective office in organized dentistry, including president of the Fort Worth District Dental Society, president of the Texas Dental Society, and editor of the Texas Dental Journal. His peers recognized his skill and service by electing him Fellow of the American College of Dentists, Fellow of the International Society of Dentists and member of the Southwest Prosthetics Association. Over the years Dr. Maberry was awarded honors and citations too numerous to enumerate here. But dentistry was only one of his passions. Picking up where he left off in high school, Robert often played music at dances in and around Commerce, where he attended college. He worked his way through dental school playing reeds in a number of prominent Houston "Big Band" orchestras. He joined the musicians' union and performed with dance bands almost every night; often playing the popular Sunday afternoon tea dances at the Rice Hotel. Yet he never neglected his studies. Most evenings he spread out his textbooks and lecture notes on his music stand so he could study between numbers. His last gig was in Fort Worth in 1954, when the dance band he played with was honored to have legendary band leader Paul Whiteman as guest conductor. Dr. Maberry was also a respected businessman and civic leader. For 20 years he was a director of North Fort Worth Bank (later Wells Fargo) and served for many years as a trusted member of the loan committee. He was active in Rotary and North Side Kiwanis. While living in Teague, Dr. Maberry had become a Mason and a Shriner; some years later in Fort Worth he was invited to join the prestigious Royal Order of Jesters. For many years he lobbied for more funding to benefit local military installations as a member of the Fort Worth Civic Leaders Association. Photography was a lifelong passion. Dr. Maberry and his beloved wife, Joan, traveled the world extensively, and he documenting every journey with his cameras. For many years he was official photographer for the Texas Dental Association. He was also an avid hunter and lover of the natural world. Robert Maberry Sr. was a lifelong Christian who attended First Presbyterian Church during his golden years. Here he led a popular Sunday school class where, along with doses of solemn theology, he regularly regaled its members with every sort of joke and humorous anecdote. Friends, acquaintances and grandchildren loved him for his rambunctious sense of humor. He was master of the quip and a student of the joke. Some of which, it must be admitted, were of an off-color variety. He compiled a substantial library of humor from around the world and assembled a compendium of classic japes, which he unleashed on whomever was in the vicinity. In Abilene he became a member of First Central Presbyterian Church. Despite his many successes in life, he remained a humble person living his Christian values, active in the church and generous in his philanthropy. He treated the poor and underprivileged with the same respect he showed bank presidents, air force generals and business leaders. He loved meeting new people and making new friends. Bob Senior, as his grandchildren called him, never allowed anyone to remain his enemy and never held a grudge. He had an insatiable curiosity and a fine intellect, a great lover of books and the ideas they contained. His children and grandchildren are forever grateful that he passed on to them many of these traits. The family of Robert Truitt Maberry Sr. would like to express their heartfelt gratitude to the nurses and caregivers of Wesley Court Retirement Community, especially Melissa Schwarz, for their attentive and loving care, and to Big Country Hospice for helping to ease some of their burdens. Survivors: Beloved Wife of 65 years, Joan Maberry; sons, Robert Maberry Jr. D.D.S., Ph.D., and wife, Anita, Phillip Davis Maberry and Mark Maberry, M.D., all of Abilene, and James Michael Maberry of Cleburne; brother, James Douglas Maberry MD. of Fort Worth; grandchildren, Eric Maberry of Houston and Elizabeth Smith of Dallas; and four great-grandchildren.