Gun Barrel City chief John ‘Ricky’ Roberts honored
Monitor Staff Reports
GUN BARREL CITY–A memorial service was held for a former Gun Barrel City police chief Monday in Eustace.
John Richard Roberts, 61, died Nov. 15, 2012, after a long and hard-fought battle with cancer.
He served the city in the early 1980s, seeing the department grow from a single on-duty officer to a 24-hour service, obtaining its own bandwidth radio channel and growing a small fleet of patrol cars. He spent his last three years in Round Rock to be near family, while he underwent experimental chemotherapy.
The very special memorial service included a contingent of honor guards from the State of Texas Law Enforcement Association, a flag ceremony, conducted by the Henderson County Peace Officers Association and special memories of him by family and longtime friends and co-workers with music for the memorial under the direction of First Baptist of Eustace Church Pastor Paul McKinney.
Henderson County Sheriff’s Office Maj. Botie Hillhouse and current Gun Barrel City Police Chief Damon Boswell also took part in the touching tribute.
Roberts began in Gun Barrel City law enforcement in November 1981 and was named police chief January 1982. He retired from his duties as police chief following an unfortunate squad car accident in May 1985. He went on to become a successful entrepreneur.
It seemed that his boyhood dreams came true in his manhood. As a youth he started in Civil Air Patrol, obtained an Amateur Radio Operator’s license, participated in ROTC and band in high school and became a fine horseman, participating with the Pleasant Grove, Balch Springs and Mesquite riding clubs, collecting numerous trophies along the way.
His uncle, Dallas Police Department Det. Maurice Solomon, who was present when Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of police headquarters, stood as a role model and helped shape his career path in law enforcement.
His hobbies, businesses and service projects reflected his desire to serve, honor life and build rich relationships.
Many of these were formed in the last three years of his life among the patients and staff of Texas Oncology.
According to his wife, Sandra, during his last years, his optimism for life and personal joy helped those around him build faith and hope to aide them in their own life journeys.
Roberts was recognized as the patient who lived the longest on the protocol to fight colon, liver and lung combination cancer.
His legacy will continue to aid scientists in cancer research through the Life Legacy Center in Tucson, Ariz.
See Roberts’ obituary on page 6A.