Earl Johnson Roberts

On February 24th, my "E-Earl" won his brave long battle with Alzheimer's and was welcomed into heaven by his life long love my Me-Maw.   My Roberts grandparents left behind a family legacy that includes 4 children, 12 grandchildren, and 4 great grandchildren.  

Johnny, Jeff, Brenda, Chuck and my grandparents  

We gathered together in Talladega to celebrate his life the weekend of February 28th.  Sweet Beckett and Justin had to stay behind because of the flu so Eli and I headed out on a plane to adventure together.

Saying goodbye at the airport. Beckett said "I'll be so sad without you I won't even be able to play" 

Boarding our plane 

legos on the plane 
Greeted at the airport by Uncle Malachi
The most comforting and healing part is time with family. Over the next couple of days, we loved, laughed, played, remembered, cried, and said goodbye...together.  But in that surrounded by the gratitude of the love of family left behind by my grandparents.  

Crazy family lunch 

loved playing by "the ocean" a great lakehouse rented for the weekend 


a many a pool game around this table 

blessed by friend and family that fed us well 

lots of games. late night games. 

and late night antics 

sunset snuggles 
family prayers

a little bit of flirting  
and lots of lots of boys

My grandfather was born in Collinsville, Alabama on April 1, 1927, to Ruth and Joe Roberts.  He was the youngest of 4 children.  His sister Sara Lee was the oldest, then his brother Joe, and then his brother Mack.  He was the last living of his siblings. He attended Collinsville High School, but his education was interrupted by WWII.  He enlisted in the navy at the age of 17, and was stationed in Guam at the time the war ended. 
Upon his return from the war, he finished high school, and played on the high school football team that won a state championship.  Earl then attended Jacksonville State University where he played halfback on the football team.  He walked-on to the team and became a four year letterman. A notable win was over Florida State in circa 1948.  He met his lifelong sweetheart and bride, Frances Harkins Roberts while at Jacksonville State, where she was a cheerleader.  They both graduated with BS degrees from Jax State.
After graduation, Earl and Frances moved to Jackson, Alabama.  Earl went into coaching and Frances into teaching.  She often was also the cheerleader sponsor.  Earl was introduced to turkey hunting in Jackson, and that became his second passion, second only to his Frances.

 Earl eventually took a job with Talladega Box and Lumber Company, working very hard for relatively low pay to support his family.  These were very difficult times financially for the family, but Earl worked very hard and did whatever it took to keep the family going.  Of course, Frances continued teaching and did her part in supporting the family.  Earl eventually found a position as recreation director for the Alabama School for the Blind and began rebuilding his career.  He went back to school and earned his Master’s Degree from the University of Alabama.  This was a proud moment for Earl, given that the University was his third love behind Frances and turkey hunting.  After receiving his Master’s, he became the Principal of Helen Keller Elementary School, and during his tenure there, he and his family lived on campus.  Meanwhile, Frances had secured a teaching job at the Alabama School for the Deaf, from which she would eventually retire.

Both my Me-Maw and my E-Earl were active in their group at church and loved to travel.  Taking many trips in their retirement.  And the LOVED to play bridge!

They both loved to hear my brother sing and did so beautifully at the service.

The same verse that was used at my Me-Maw's service was used for E-Earl's as well. 2 Timothy 4:2b.

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

And the message the same: Consistent.  Married for over 60 years.  Served faithfully.  Lifelong family man committed to raising his children.  Working hard to raise 4 kids on 2 teachers salaries putting all 4 through college. 

In his last years his illness stole his memories, his ability to know and see all the fruits of his years of work.  The major successes of his football team (of which he would have been most proud) and the legacy of his children and their children and his grandchildren.  

Ash Wednesday was the week before and my heart was turning over the verses while at the funeral.  From dust you are taken.. from dust you will return..  I'm reminded of words from James that our time here on Earth is like a mist.  A vapor.  The passing of a generation.  And while I say goodbye to my grandparents I know that I am being called to being as faithful, obedient, and consistent to the next generation... to honor their legacy, their sacrifice, their love.  

That the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
    but keep his commandments; Psalm 78: 6-7

A life well lived.  A life well loved.  A legacy of hope in death. A promise for the future.. for generations to come.

The Riley's