|Written by Jonathan Spicker|
|Friday, 26 November 2010|
By Dan Roketenetz
Roy Roberts, suffered a fatal heart attack while riding his bike on May 6, 1999. He was 44 years old and leaves his wife and Mary Jo, and three daughters. Roy was a longtime member of Queen City Wheels and served on the executive board. He was the quintessential volunteer, having worked in significant roles in every Cyclebration. Roy was laid t rest on May 11. In a fitting tribute to Roy several members of QCW and other cycling friends, on their bikes and in team jerseys, escorted Roy in the processional to his final resting place. Roy will be sadly missed by us all. What follows is a memorial tribute to Roy that I delivered at his funeral service.
Memorial Tribute to Roy LeMaur Roberts
I have been given the distinct honor of spending a few minutes with you remembering the life of Roy LeMaur Roberts; LeMaur to much of his family, just plain ol’ Roy to most of his friends and co-workers. His sudden death is an immense shock to all of us – the family and friends that he left behind. In the weeks and months to come, we will all be making attempts to understand why he had to leave us so soon and to adjust to life without a beloved husband, father, son and friend.
As you all know, Roy was an avid cyclist. Actually, he was avid in everything he did, but my connection to him was through our mutual love of the sport. I first met him several years ago in the mid-80’s at the first bike race for which I had volunteered. Roy was riding around in a golf cart looking officious. Not a person that you would describe as a “shy guy”, he stopped me and asked me if I really had a job to do. He was the type of person that if you had on a volunteer T-shirt you had better be doing something. Somewhat taken aback, I told him that I did have a job and that I was in the process of doing it. He instructed me t hop in the cart and that he would take me to where I needed to go. We have been friends ever since.
Since that first meeting with Roy, he has been involved in every major bicycle race in Cincinnati. In fact, most recently he was again to run the Kentucky side of the National Championship Road Race this coming June. The Board of Directors of that event has agreed to name that lop of the race in Roy’s memory. So Roy, while you may not be there in person, you’ll be there in spirit, takin’ names and kickin’ butt.
If there is one word that best describes Roy it is “enthusiastic”. He approached everything in life with a level of enthusiasm that I found inspirational at times. Enthusiasm for Mary Jo, his girls, his extended family, his friends, his volunteering and giving of himself. He was, and always will be, bigger than life because he not only cared about people, eh cared about them with such enthusiasm. He gave of himself not only to run bicycle races, but to give time doing bike safety clinics for children and to scavenge bike parts to put one together for a needy youngster. Every new event in his life was treated as a challenge and he went full speed ahead. Recently, he found an interest in archeology, digging for old and rare bottles and artifacts in the area. A few months ago he stopped by my house and we were drinking a couple beers on my back porch. He was just carrying on about this new hobby and how rewarding it was for him. He said “Rok, you gotta come with me man, there’s nothing like digging around the bottom of some hundred year old outhouse and finding a neat old beer bottle.” Well, as I said, Roy’s enthusiasm was not always inspiration to me. I replied, “I’ll have to get back with you on that one, Roy!”
We will all remember Roy for his outgoing personality an demeanor. He was a loving, vibrant soul who brightened the lives of all those who knew him. Common to all our remembrances of Roy will be his selflessness. If you needed help, all you had to do was ask Roy. He was there. I remember a few years ago that my son was wrestling with the prospect of not returning to college after completing his second year. He was also having trouble finding a summer job. I mentioned this to Roy and he assured me that not only would he get my son a job at the Kroger food plant, but that he would be back in school in the fall. About three weeks later, I was having dinner with my dog tired son. “How’s the job going, I asked?” He said, “Roy put me in a department where I’ve done nothing but skim the top off of mayonnaise jars before the cover goes on. I think that I’m going back to school.” When I reported this to Roy, he beamed and said, “I told you he’d be going back.” Thanks, Roy. I still owe you for that one.
All of us will remember Roy’s quirkiness and his endless sense of humor. I will personally miss all those times that we worked together on bike races. How hard we worked, how hard we laughed with Roy and his antics. No matter how difficult the chore, he kept a positive slant on things, and thanks to him, every endeavor was a success. He was the ultimate procurer of goods and services. All of those involved in any event with Roy would marvel at the mountains of food he would get contributed. To this day, I still can’t look at baloney without getting a nervous tick! And, he would bring in volunteers by the carload, which included more often than not, Mary Jo and his daughters who were pressed into service. The Roy would set a pace that was near impossible to keep up with.
Roy was an innovator as well. One of his most notable was to use giant airbags at race corners rather than hay bales t protect racers. I’ll never forget the first time that we used these things, trying to blow them up without the correct attachment. But, we managed, and Roy made us laugh until we cried. Last year at the National Championship Road Race, Roy’s airbags received national attention from the United States Cycling Federation. I wouldn’t be surprised to see his idea being used at other race venues throughout the country someday. He even proposed to sell advertising on them. One thought was to fill them full of hot air and have them sponsored by lawyers. He really cracked himself up on that one!
Several years ago my sister made a needlepoint plaque for me that says, “God forbid that I should go to any heaven in which there are no bike races.” That expression has take on a new meaning for me the last few days. I know where Roy is. I know the he is safe. I know that he is not riding in traffic. I also know that the heaven where Roy is now does have bike races and that he is in charge.
We love you, big guy. We will miss you.