Gilbert Sam Roberts, 1935-2009

Palisade, Colorado, resident Gilbert Sam Roberts, age 73 -- my father -- died at 3:30 p.m. yesterday at St. Mary's Hospital in Grand Junction. Those are the facts. But like any straight-forward recitation of basic data, they tell only a sliver of the story -- and in this forum, I won't be able to add a lot more. Please indulge me, though, as I acknowledge some debts.

My father taught me the importance of learning -- and I wasn't the only one. He was an elementary-school principal for most of his career, and he did as much by his example as through his words to convey this message. I'm also grateful that I inherited his love of newspapers. He wasn't always treated kindly in print: He retired earlier than he might have otherwise after he became embroiled in controversy over his efforts to teach self-esteem to poor and underprivileged students. (No, this isn't a misprint.) But he never turned against the medium. Each morning, he would go to an area doughnut shop and read the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post cover to cover. In every conversation we had during the past few months, before there were any signs of the bizarre infection that ultimately stilled his breath, he mentioned his hope that the Rocky would survive.

Today, the sight of the Rocky on my driveway gave me what may be my only smile of the day. Thanks, Dad.

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