Jerry Wayne Roberts Sr.
May 13, 1937 – April 24, 2018
Jerry Wayne Roberts Sr May 13, 1937 – April 24, 2018
This isn’t going to be your typical obituary because Jerry wasn’t your typical man. He was a storyteller. He was in the middle of writing his story when he was called home to Heaven. I’ll finish what I can for him. So, this is how his story goes…
On May 13, 1937, Jerry Wayne Roberts was born in a little town in East Texas called Paris. Strangely, his mother, Mary Helen, had been born in the same room 19 years earlier. His father, Thomas William, was born over on a farm in Hopewell, TX. There wasn’t much going on work wise in Paris so his dad jumped a train to California, got some work and sent for them. They rode a bus to Modesto, CA. From there, Jerry’s dad got a job on a farm in Tulare, CA where at age 2, he would go to work with his dad. That’s where he got his strong work ethic. Being only a toddler at the time, Jerry once wandered away and got lost on the farm. Luckily another worker found him and took him back to his dad. They lived in tents on the farm until his dad started building trailer houses to sell and they all got to move into one.
At that point, his dad decided that the coast was where it’s at. He wanted to move them to the coast from the San Joaquin Valley because it was hot there and he knew the coast would be cooler. They loaded up and moved to Pismo Beach, CA. They moved so close to the coast, in fact, that at night, the tide would come in and lap on their walls. During that time, Jerry’s mom and dad had a little sister/best friend for him. They named her Janice. Jerry thought Janice hung the moon. When they were a little older, Jerry, being quite the risk taker, decided it would be a mighty fine idea for them to take a little tricycle ride down Highway 101. His dad came across them on the road and took them to the babysitter’s house.
During the time that they were at the babysitter’s house, his mom started a band. At 7 years old, Jerry began to sing. She got him a gig singing on the KVEC Saturday Morning Radio Show, Uncle Dudley.
Being the adventurer he was, him and his friends, the Boyd sisters, decided to climb a mountain. There were two trails. The Angel Trail and Devil Trail. Once at the top of the Angel Trail, the girls decided that they wanted their shoes that they had left at the bottom. Jerry ventured down the trail to get them. On the way back up, he took the wrong trail and got lost on the mountain. They sent a search party to look for him. They were unable to find him so the police called in the army. They had policemen, firemen, and soldiers looking for him all night. Finally, an Army Private named Calvin Carroll tripped and found him. He carried him down the mountain and reunited him with his family. This little adventure landed him on the front cover of the Los Angeles Examiner with the headline “Brave 8 Year Old Boy (SLO) Found Asleep on Mountain”.
At 10 years old, they loaded up and moved back to Texas. Jerry always said that moving from the coast to Blossom, TX then Paris, TX and eventually Odessa, TX, made him think that God was mad at him because they arrived in the dead of summer and the temperature was 120 degrees. When he was 14 years old and working at his dad’s body shop, his dad bought him a wrecked car and told him that if he could fix it, it was his, so fix it is what he did. Then, he went straight down and got his hardship license at 14 years old.
He went to Odessa High School and played clarinet in the band. He had multiple shenanigans in high school so you can just fill in what you like or remember here if you went to school with him. He graduated in 1956.
After high school, he got his first taste of freedom from his parents at McMurry College in Abilene, TX. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing. During one of his shenanigans, he took one of his professor’s car apart piece by piece and hauled it up to the roof of the building where he put it back together. This wouldn’t be the only time the college had to hire a crane on his account. The next time, him and his buddies had gone to a farm and took a cow. They led the cow upstairs, not knowing you can’t lead a cow back downstairs. They put this cow in a guy's room who was out of town for the weekend. When the guy got back to his dorm room, that cow had really “decorated” it well for him. The college had to come remove the windows and again hire a crane to get the cow out of the room. (No cows were harmed in the making of this prank.) This little stunt didn’t fare as well for Jerry as the first one had. He was sent home and banned from McMurry College.
Jerry came back to Odessa and worked for his dad at his dad’s body shop. He was working for his dad when he met and married Barbara Hart. It was a quick marriage but not too quick for a son, Randy Wayne, to be born in 1959.
Jerry then started a band and was playing at local clubs. He met and married Patricia Shortes and along came daughter, Deanna Darlene “DeDe”. Jerry and his second wife divorced.
Jerry ended up at a party where he met and became friends with Buddy Holly. From there, he went to Norman Petty Studio in Clovis, NM, where they all cut records. After hearing Jerry sing, Norman Petty offered Jerry a 5 year recording deal. Jerry recorded songs “Madonna” and “All That Remains” on ABC Paramount in August of 1960; “Little Bitty Lover” and “After a While” in September of 1962; then he’s not sure of the date of “Go Right Ahead” and “I Wonder Why”. The records ended up on the Billboard charts.
In December of 1963, he met the woman he would stay married to for 44 years, until her death in 2008. They were married 3 days after meeting.
After the records, he enlisted in the Army where he pulled more shenanigans and made lifelong friendships. He went to basic training at Fort Knox, KY. and then was stationed at Fort Hood and Fort Bliss. He was a Communications Chief when he was discharged in 1969.
Jerry returned back to his family and body shop and had his daughter, Krystal Leigh “K’Lei” in 1972 and son Jerry Wayne Jr. “Scooter” in 1976.
Jerry owned Roberts Body Shop for many decades where he met many friends. Once his wife talked him into closing the body shop, he bought and sold cars at auctions. He drove all across the country doing that also. She finally talked him out of doing that, due to his wonderful driving (that’s sarcasm in case it wasn’t coming through). He bought into his friend, Stanley Prather’s, established business, Auto Damage Appraisal Service, where he worked until January of this year at 80 years old. He really didn’t want to retire but it was time.
Jerry joined the Lions Club in 1972 and recently received his 40 year pin. He also received numerous awards but some of the best were the Legacy Award and the Cullen Akens Award.
He never met a stranger. He traveled all over the country and lots of places outside of the US. If anyone was walking down the street and looked hungry, he would pull over and take them to eat. He didn’t want anyone to be hungry due to the fact that he grew up hungry and knew how it felt. He would drop whatever he was doing to help anyone in need, family or not. He treated everyone as if they were family. He loved children the most.
Elizabeth Smith Noble was his companion and best friend at the time of his death.
He passed away on April 24, 2018, exactly 10 years to the date as his wife. If that’s not love, what is?
So there you have it. One last rambling story from the man himself. I hope you enjoyed it.
He leaves behind his daughter, Krystal Giuliani and husband Brian Vaughn; Daughter, Deanna and husband Kenneth Hepner; Son, Randy and wife Celina Sanchez-McCauley. Grandchildren, Taijia McKinley and Fiance Luis Sumaya, Kacee McKinley, Tristin McKinley, Christian McKinley, Kylie Vaughn, Kara and husband Joey Laviolette, Kahler Vaughn, Isaak Vaughn, Maisie Roberts, Ian and wife Christina Page, David Page, Brian and wife Melissa Page. Great Grandchildren, Skylah, Kaven, Asher, Sailor, Ethan, Emery, Savannah, Addyson, McKenzie, and Ivan. Sister, Janice Roberts; Best friend and companion, Elizabeth Noble, Adopted kids, Teri Slaughter, Melissa Dunlap, and Jamie Villanueva, Angela Noble, Madaleine Alexander, Mona Tharp, Mariann Condron, Darren Whitehead and numerous nieces and nephews.
He is preceded in death by his wife, Evelena Faye DeLay Roberts, son, Jerry Roberts Jr, and granddaughter, Tesla Faith Rice.
Now to the business part. Visitation will be at Frank Wilson Funeral Home on Friday, April 27, from 6pm – 8pm. Celebration of life will be on Saturday, April 28th at 2pm at Cumberland Presbyterian Church with Pastor Jimmy Braswell officiating. We would like to invite everyone who would like to tell their own “Jerry” story to get up and say a few words.
Also, thank you to all of the wonderful team at Continuous Care in Medical Center Hospital and Dr. Dar for the wonderful care you provided in the last month of his life.
- Visitation Friday, April 27, 2018
- Service Saturday, April 28, 2018