WP-ORG Main Image
View a eulogy for Thurman McRoy Roberts, USMA '64, who passed away on July 4, 2010.

Thurman McRoy Roberts

West Point, 1964

Be Thou At Peace

Posted by David M. Smith on July 19, 2010:

Losing Skip Roberts on July 4th, 2010, overwhelmed me for awhile.

Even way back in 1960, in Beast Barracks, and Plebe year, he showed so much intelligence and responsibility and courage and decency and honesty---and a wonderful sense of humor.
He treated everyone with respect. He was a gentleman. He was tough, but I never saw any bravado.

He was incredibly kind and generous to me when it mattered most, and I never really thanked him....

In these early July days and nights have come a lot of long stored memories and feelings. I cried, mostly feeling sorry for myself. Wishing I had thanked him. Realizing he and I won't get to stagger together with our walkers onto the Plain someday, while the Corps, at attention, suffers the wait through our joint remarks as the oldest living grads....

My first thoughts and words seemed more about me, than about him. I felt ashamed about that---but, no matter my editing, or writing other words, there was me again. At last I have given in to this, and admit it. I feel diminished. I feel sad. I feel lonely knowing Skip has left us here to go on without him. While I haven't been actively involved in his life for a very long time, I now know that it mattered to me, a lot, that he was there---as husband and father and grandfather and friend, and soldier. And now I miss him terribly. And my heart and prayers and sympathy go out to his family---to Judy and his children and grandchildren.
How will we go on? We will go on....

He may never have been aware of the gifts he gave me, and how much he meant to me. In Beast Barracks in those first July days, his calm, cheerful confidence was the antidote to my angst. I felt overwhelmed, he seemed under control. He was subject to the same demands and pressures, but seemed to take it all in stride, with a maturity and self-possession I didn't even understand. It was a mystery, and my own discomfort made it impossible for me to fully appreciate what he did and how he did it. I never will know whether he arrived on that first day knowing what was coming, and how to deal with it, or whether he came with the tools and gifts that enabled him to adapt and cope. It couldn't have been any less of a challenge for him than for me, but he made it look easy, and his help, example, and friendship, were my salvation in those 1960 summer days of being tested.

More important to me though, was that Skip took me in. He came from Maryland, and I came from Alaska. His family and friends might as well have been in Highland Falls, mine on the moon. As often as allowed, Skip's wonderful Mother and Father were there. And so was the sweet and beautiful Judy. Skip took me in and so did they. They treated me like a brother and a son. There were visits to West Point, and picnics, and visits to Baltimore and the Roberts' home. It meant more to me than I can put into words---more even than I knew at the time. When we survived Beast, and September came, Skip and I went different directions---to different battalions, companies, barracks, roommates, classes and dinner tables. He was an athlete, I was not. His cadet family and friends did not overlap with mine. And yet he continued, all through that first critical, difficult Plebe year, to take me in, and so did his family, and Judy.

I have in the past thought about the idea that the nominating of candidates for West Point in 1960, and in selecting nominees for appointment, the screeners and appointers and processes were looking for the well rounded young man, the "complete person". When I learned about Skip's untimely passing on the 4th of July, this idea came to me again---because Skip Roberts was this "l'uomo universale". He was the epitome of the real, whole, complete man. And it's the highest calling and achievement I can think of, when such and man is a Soldier.

Until we meet again Skip, Thank You.

Previous Eulogy   Next Eulogy

West-Point.Org (WP-ORG), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, provides an online communications infrastructure that enable graduates, parents, and friends of the military academy to maintain and strengthen the associations that bind us together. We will provide this community any requested support, consistent with this purpose, as quickly and efficiently as possible. WP-ORG is funded by the generosity of member contributions. Our communication services are provided in cooperation with the AOG (independent of USMA) and are operated by volunteers serving the Long Gray Line. For questions or comments, please email us at feedback@west-point.org.