William Lee "Bill" Roberts, 94, former resident of Viper, passed from this life Wednesday, July 9, at Granville Manor in Parsons, W. Va. He was the son of the late Charles Ashton Roberts and Lucille Hagerty Roberts. On July 4, 1943, he was married and became devoted to Juanita "Nita" Lee Hall Roberts, of Hazard, who preceded him in death.
He is survived by his five children, John and Nancy Roberts, Nashville, Tenn., Dan Roberts, of Laramie, Wyo., Emily Whitaker, of Hendricks, W. Va., Coni and Doug Crocher, of Springfield, Ill., and Glen and Lucy Roberts, of Madison, Ala.; one brother, David Roberts, of Hambleton, W. Va.; 12 grandchildren, Joe Roberts, Matthew Roberts, Jason Roberts, Ryan Roberts, Sarah Lucas, William Whitaker, Joe Zock, Andrew Mitchell, Courtney Mitchell, Melissa Precise, Justin Richards, Lacey Reinoehl; and five great-grandchildren, Taylor, Tanner, Keil, Ella, and Olivia.
He attended the schools of Tucker County, W. Va., and earned his Bachelor's degree from Berea College. He left graduate school at Vanderbilt University when he was called to active duty in the U.S. Navy. He served in the South Pacific on the USS Virgo where he was a shipmate with Thomas Heggen, the author of the book and screenplay "Mister Roberts." Bill was on active duty in the Navy until 1955 and retired as Lieutenant Commander in the Navy Reserve. He settled in Springfield, Ill., where he worked for Pillsbury and the New York Life Insurance Company. He was a member of the Lions Club, the Masonic Lodge, many bridge clubs, and the First Presbyterian Church.
In retirement, Bill and Nita moved to Perry County, Ky., where he worked in adult literacy programs, planted black walnut trees, and entertained grandchildren for over 30 years. He was affectionately known to the Hall family as "Straw Jaws."
Bill's request for cremation was honored. Memorial services for Bill will be held 4 p.m., August 9, on the summit of Hall Mountain Road, Viper, Ky. Memorial contributions in Bill's honor may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 160 Broadway St, Hazard, KY 41701. The Summerfield Funeral Home has been entrusted with the arrangements and online condolences may be sent to the family at www.summerfieldfuneralhome.com.