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Hobart Merlin Roberts

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SMITHLAND, Ky. - Hobart Merlin Roberts, 87, born April 30, 1926 in Montague, passed away in his sleep at home in Smithland, Ky., on May 8, 2013.

He was the second son of Stanley B. Roberts and Mabel E. Cole Roberts. He was born on the family dairy farm, Hyckory Hyll Farm, which had been in the family for three generations, in a region of New Jersey that had been originally settled by his Dutch forefathers in the early 18th century.

He was a life-long resident of Montague until June 1978 when he and his brother, the late Robert Cole Roberts, moved with their families and their dairy herd of 200 purebred cows to Livingston County, Ky., where they continued to run a registered Holstein dairy farm until 2001.

Hobart graduated in 1952 from Rutgers University in New Jersey where he was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity, and earned a degree in animal husbandry. Hobart was a passionate dairy farmer who loved to get up early in the morning to milk and take care of cows, which he started doing at the age of 4 and continued to do until the age of 75.

In Montague, Hobart was a member of the agricultural society, the Grange, for which during World War II, he sold war bonds to help finance the war. As a child, Hobart was active in the 4-H program where he earned prizes for dairy judging, and as an adult he was a leader in the 4-H, coaching dairy judging teams in both New Jersey and Kentucky. During his youth and adulthood, Hobart was known for his prize-winning Holstein-Frisian show cows; many were nationally awarded for their fine breeding and high milk-production. He was a member of the National Holstein Frisian Association, as well as being an active member of New Jersey and Kentucky state Holstein associations.

In 1956, Hobart married Astrid Milo of the Netherlands with whom he had four sons. They later divorced and he was remarried in 1994 to Josephine Champion, of Smithland, Ky., with whom he enjoyed the golden years of his life living in the house known as the "Old Tavern" on Smithland's riverfront. Hobart was a member of the Minisink Dutch Reformed Church of Montague, and after he moved to Livingston County, Ky., he became an active member of Smithland First Baptist Church. Levity was the secret to Hobart's life. He was known for his dry-wit, or as he referred to it, "knit-wit" sense of humor.

Hobart is survived by his wife, Josephine Roberts, of Smithland, Ky.; three sons: Stanley S. Roberts and his wife, Monica (Willebrand) Roberts, of Ventura County, Calif., Wendell M. Roberts and his wife, Karen (Lawless) Roberts, of Ventura, Calif., and Benjamin B. Roberts, of Amsterdam, the Netherlands; two stepdaughters: Angela Champion and Sabrina Champion, both of Louisville, Ky.; six grandchildren: Wesley Roberts, of Ventura, Calif., Jennifer Roberts, of Salinas, Calif., Kimberly (Roberts) Perez, of Ventura, Calif., Amber Cheri Roberts, of Salinas, Calif., Ian Roberts, of Ventura, Calif., and Sophia Roberts, of Ventura, Calif.; and three great-grandchildren: Jenna Perez, Brandon Roberts and Bradley Perez. He also is survived by his nephew, David S. Roberts, of Hampton, and niece, Dianne I. Roberts Fraley, of Smithland, Ky. He was predeceased by his son, the late Hans H. Roberts.

Funeral services will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday, May 18, in the Montague Reformed Church, River Road, Montague. A burial will follow in the Montague Reformed Church Cemetery, Montague.

Funeral arrangements by Gray-Parker Funeral Home Inc., 100 E. Main St., Port Jervis, N.Y., 12771; 845-856-5191. For additional information, directions or to send a condolence note to the family, visit

Published in The New Jersey Herald on May 16, 2013
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