I thought the eulogy given by my nephew, Greg Roberts, for his father, Richard "Dick" Roberts, during his funeral Mass at St. Francis de Sales on January 10 was exceptional. Greg received a standing ovation from the overflow crowd. He provided stories both humorous and poignant of his father, a strong silent and resilient "Duke Wayne" type of guy. He spoke of his father in his roles as a husband, father, grandfather, godfather, uncle, business and community man as well as a friend to many.
The Epilogue came from an article by Lou Pastina in The Rockaway Times on Thursday, January 20. Lou used the metaphor of Dick being a Prince who was gentlemanly, well-mannered, and a helpful friend to many in the community. This was evidenced by the over 600 attendees in church, as well as the packed Harbor Light where friends, families and neighbors came to celebrate his life. Lou wrote that "there are few Princes around who have the spiritual quality of doing what is right, as well as doing for others."
Greg told stories of his father buying milk in the morning for neighbors as well as ice cream from Mr. Softee for all the kids on the block. I was having heart attack symptoms at 3 a.m. and the first person I called was my brother, Dick. He came over to my house in a flash and drove my wife Lynn and me to the LIJ ER in New Hyde Park. He stayed with us while a stent was being inserted. I have been asked if we were close. I would say that we had a strong mutual respect for one another. We didn't pal around regularly, but when we got together, either in person or by phone, he always showed an interest in me, my family, and my problems. He gave me good advice for grandparenting, relationships and business.
Cardinals in the church are referred to as "Princes of the Church." After the Mass, I asked Fr. Bill Sweeney, who along with eight other priests celebrated the Mass, "Did we just eulogize a Cardinal?"
The last time I was with him was on the Monday before he passed away. We were having lunch at the Harbor Light. I, along with the entire Rockaway community, was stunned learning of his unexpected passing. I am lucky to have had him as a brother for almost 70 years. Many in the church knew Dick from kindergarten through college, his marriage of 45 years, his family, as well as his business and community involvement.
Lou ended his article with, "We need more people like Dick. He was the Prince of Beach 130th Street." Dick was a great role model for all of us to strive to be Princes and Princesses. Rockaway and the world will be a better place if we follow his example of how to live your life. He is now a Prince in a greater Kingdom. Thank you, Lou Pastina.
John W. Roberts
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