G. Brian Roberts, of East Amherst, NY, a third generation funeral director and consultant to the business, succumbed to metastatic lung cancer at age 77 on March 21, 2021. Born on March 14, 1944, Brian, as he preferred to be called, began working for his father George of the George J. Roberts & Sons Funeral Home at the age of 15.
Brian was considered the consummate funeral director. Always considered a gentleman, families looked to him as a pillar of strength. He comforted people in their time of grief, guided them, and empathized with them. He was compassionate, and attentive to all details when he helped plan funeral arrangements. He instilled such confidence in people and showed such genuine care that he made saying good-bye to their loved ones easier. Brian was considered irreplaceable by many people who stated only he would take care of them in their time of need.
As a funeral director common themes resonate about Brian Roberts’ character. He was highly professional, dedicated, knowledgeable, approachable, encouraging, supportive, and very dependable. He treated people with respect, courtesy, and kindness. He was a true asset to the funeral profession.
Known by many as a genuine, loyal friend, he was a man who enjoyed life. If you were with Brian, you were in good company. He made friends easily, had a welcoming demeanor, and always wore a smile. When asked what the “G” stood for in his name he comically stated “Gorgeous” instead of George named after his father.
He was devoted to his work and to his family, a loving husband, father, and grandfather, a patriot, and a conservative.
As a family man he bestowed his loved ones with lessons of positivity, forgiveness, honor, loyalty, and laughter. He was a beach-goer, sun worshipper, golfer, sports enthusiast, wedding chauffeur to young friends, a sunglass wearer, and a man of faith.
Brian was a proud 1962 graduate of St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute. He was a three- sport athlete (football, basketball, and baseball) playing four years of varsity baseball as a left-handed pitcher. He was scouted by the New York Yankees in high school, but a shoulder injury to his pitching arm ended that pursuit. He took great pleasure in pitching two defeats of Canisius High School in his senior year.
Brian spent two years as a JV football co-coach at St. Joe’s immediately after graduation. Active in the Alumni Association and the Board of Trustees, 1986-1992, he helped with fundraising for the building of the weight room (fitness room) at the school. These fundraisers were held at the USS Little Rock for many years. He was also active in developing the St. Joe’s baseball field. Prior to that all games were played in Delaware Park.
One of his proudest achievements was becoming a 1996 Signum Fidei recipient. Signum Fidei is an esteemed award given to an alumnus of St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute who has distinguished himself in his professional career and community activities; an individual who shares in the Lasallian spirit characterized by Signum Fidei (sign of faith) that expresses itself in love and zeal for the welfare of others.
A founding member of the Bertie Bay Social Club, Brian reunited annually with several of his St. Joe’s High school friends for five days of golf and camaraderie. Originally held at his parents’ summer home in Bertie Bay, Ontario, Canada, this group then alternated meeting at the Cape. Their friendship was legendary, and six members served as his pallbearers.
Brian attended the Simmons School of Embalming and Mortuary Science in Syracuse, NY, receiving his license in February 1968. He received the Certificate of Merit from the NYS Funeral Directors Association voted by the faculty and student body as being the person who most personifies the highest standards of excellence in the funeral industry.
Brian joined the 107th Air National Guard of Niagara Falls, NY. In 1968 his unit was activated and sent to Vietnam where he spent one year in active duty as military police. This seemed prophetic as he often mentioned that if he weren’t a funeral director he would have been a policeman. In Vietnam he was exposed to Agent Orange. This contributed to several illnesses later in life one of which ultimately caused his death one week after his 77th birthday. He considered his illnesses a challenge to overcome, was always positive and hopeful, and fought a brave fight
Brian was twice a Board Member of the Cherry Hill Club of Ridgeway, Ontario, Canada having been a member since 1980. He never had trouble joining a foursome. It was said that everyone enjoyed playing golf with Brian regardless of who at the end of the day paid or collected a wager.
Mr. Roberts built his own funeral home at 8630 Transit Road in Amherst in the mid 1990’s. Prior to that he was President of George J. Roberts & Sons and the Bury and Roberts Funeral Homes. He later joined SCI with other funeral homes in WNY. The Friday after his death a bright rainbow shined over the funeral home at
8630 Transit Road now known as the Dengler, Roberts, Perna, Funeral Home.
Over the years Brian was a Board member of Hospice, the Kresge Residence, a member of the Kiwanis Club of Buffalo, and a member of the St. Vincent De Paul Society delivering luncheons and stocking the pantry. He joined the Bishop’s Council of the Laity for 20 years, became a member of the Kenmore Mercy Foundation Board, the St. Francis Foundation, the New York State Funeral Directors Association, and served as past president of the Erie Niagara Funeral Directors Association. He was invited to be a member of the National Select Morticians, an exclusive group composed of American and Canadian funeral directors. Brian was a 40 year member and past president of the Buffalo Executive Association.
Mr. Roberts was past Commander of the Lorenzo Burrows Jr. American Legion Post #78. He was a trustee of the Scholarship fund, a three year $5,000 per semester scholarship given to fund medical school to a candidate who was in the military. He was instrumental in resurrecting the fund in 2008 when it experienced problems.
Visitation was held at the Dengler, Roberts, Perna Funeral Home at 8630 Transit Road in East Amherst on Monday, March 29, 2021. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at St. Gregory the Great Church, Williamsville, NY, Tuesday, March 30, 2021, at 10:30 AM with six priests on the altar. The USAir Force Honor Guard presented the US Flag to Mrs. Roberts in the church.
Married nearly 47 years, Mr. Roberts is survived by his wife Carol, and his three daughters: Mackenzie, Carly (Kevin) Klein, and Gina Roberts (Andrew) Bui. Called “Papa G”, he was devoted to his four grandchildren: Kevin, Colin, and Brendan Klein, and Eden Bui.
May you think of him fondly whenever you don your sunglasses.
St. Vincent de Paul Society1298 Main St., Buffalo, New York 14209
St. Joseph's Collegiate Inst. Athletic Dept.845 Kenmore Ave., Buffalo, New York 14223