Dr. Alfred E. Roberts

DR. ALFRED D. ROBERTS, 89, OF WEST CHESTER Dr. Alfred D. Roberts, 89, of West Chester, PA, died Tuesday, October 30, 2012, at Neighborhood Hospice, West Chester, surrounded by his large and loving family. He was the husband of Mary (Palladino) Roberts, with whom he shared 66 years of marriage. Born in Stowe, PA, Dr. Roberts graduated from Pottstown High School. After two years at West Chester University studying music, he was drafted by the U.S. Army, completed basic training and sent to the University of Illinois for schooling in languages. He served in the military as a Sergeant in the United States Army and was sent to Europe as a replacement soldier following the D-Day invasion. After a stint of fighting and because of his language training, he was assigned to assist displaced persons to reach their homelands. After the war, he attended Ursinus College as a French major and graduated Valedictorian. He then went on to earn his Master's and Doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, PA. And in 1959, Dr. Roberts was hired by West Chester University (then West Chester State Teachers' College) to establish a Department of Foreign Languages. He spent his entire career as a professor, serving a number of years as Department Chair. But his love was teaching and he preferred being in the classroom where he inspired hundreds of students who went on to teach languages across the U.S., many of whom stayed in touch with him throughout the years and were not shy about how he had inspired them with his teaching, his wit, and his love of life. He also established the Junior Year Abroad program for students to study French at the University of Montpellier, France. During the turbulent 1970s, Dr. Roberts was President of the Faculty Senate where he acquired a reputation for defending academic freedom and the rights of professors to exercise free speech without fear of reprisal. Dr. Roberts also led a fulfilling life outside of academia. As an involved and loving father, husband, and family man, he encouraged his children to pursue their dreams without a thought to limits imposed on them by the world at large due to their sex or the opinions of outsiders. He was an active member of St., Agnes Parish in West Chester and wrote a history of the parish on the occasion of its 200th Anniversary. He also volunteered at the St. Agnes Day Room, where he conducted a poetry workshop. Following his retirement, he maintained many interests, including playing piano, listening to classical music, reading and writing poetry, and finishing the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle, which he challenged himself to complete no later than Tuesday of each week. He also became an avid runner and was often recognized and greeted throughout West Chester as he completed his daily 3-mile run. He continued running until April of this year when back pain forced him to give up this cherished habit. But more than anything else, he enjoyed spending time with his extensive family, who dearly loved his warm and generous spirit and his ability to laugh and to inspire and advise them. Large family meals with all of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren could bring tears to his eyes as he led grace and expressed his gratitude for their love. In addition to his wife, Dr. Roberts is survived by his brother, Thomas, of Stowe, PA; his sisters Philomena Boggs of Stowe, PA, and Anna Falcone, of Lewes, DE. He is also survived by his son, John, of Birchrunville, PA, and his daughters, Frances Pierce(Robert) of Chester Springs, PA; Marcia Gregorio(Laurence) of Gettysburg, PA; Christine Harmon (Alfred), Judy Deppen (Paul) and Susan Fiorentino (Christopher) of West Bradford, PA, and Beth Kotarski (Mark) of West Chester, PA; grandchildren, Andrew and Joshua Pierce; Joseph(Ilene), Julie(Stoudt), and Elena Gregorio; Vincent (Therese), Joanna, and Benjamin Grim; Michael, Daniel, Matthew, and Christopher Harmon; Gregory (Erin), Diana, and Jeffrey Fiorentino; Emily and Kaitlyn Kotarski and two great-grandchildren, Keifer Grim and Olivia Gregorio. Dr. Roberts was preceded in death by his parents, Thomas (Rabottini) Roberts and Maria (Mammarella) Roberts; his brother, William, and sisters, Lena, Rose, Louise, and Malvina. Relatives and friends are invited to his Funeral Mass at 10 a.m. on Friday, November 9, 2012 at St. Agnes Church, 233 W. Gay St. West Chester, PA 19380. Interment will be at St. Agnes Cemetery, West Chester. Visitation will be held from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday, November 8, at the DellaVecchia, Reilly, Smith & Boyd Funeral Home, Inc. 410 N. Church St. West Chester, PA 19380, 610-696-1181, www.DellaFH.com and from 8-10 a.m. on Friday, November 9, at St. Agnes Church. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the scholarship in his honor at West Chester University by sending them to the West Chester University Foundation, P.O. Box 541, West Chester, PA 19381, with a notation to "The Alfred D. Roberts Scholarship." If preferred, donations can be made to the Saint Agnes Day Room, 233 West Gay Street, West Chester, PA 19380, with a notation to the "Saint Agnes Day Room."

Published in The Mercury on Nov. 2, 2012