Gordon B. (Gordie) Roberts
ONEONTA _ Gordon B. (Gordie) Roberts, 86, of Oneonta, passed away peacefully on Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010, at his home.
He was born in East Meredith on Jan. 18, 1924, and grew up on a 200 acre dairy farm owned and operated by his parents, Earl and Loreen Roberts. Gordie and his sister Margaret lived on the farm until they graduated from high school.
Gordie attended elementary school in a two-room schoolhouse in East Meredith and then graduated from Oneonta High School in 1940. His college career began in 1941, at Hartwick College, but was interrupted when Gordie enlisted in the Air Force in 1942. After finishing his training as a B-24 Liberator pilot, Gordie was assigned to the 14th Air Force and stationed at Chengtu, China. By the end of World War II, he had completed 66 missions. After his discharge from the Air Force as a First Lieutenant in 1946, Gordie immediately returned to Hartwick College and graduated in June of 1947.
Following his graduation from Hartwick, the Travelers Insurance Company recruited Gordie to build an agency business in Oneonta. After attending Travelers insurance school in Hartford, Conn., he founded the Gordon B. Roberts Agency, Inc., in October 1947. Gordie's hard work built a successful insurance business guided by his philosophy of providing personal customer service.
The agency continues to thrive today. His service to the insurance industry included continuous membership in the Independent Agents Association of NY, president and director of the Otsego County Insurance Agents Association, advisory council service for the Travelers and Chenango Mutual Insurance Companies and director of the Bankers and Shippers Insurance Company.
Gordie retired from the insurance business in 1997, nearly 50 years to the day of his founding of the Gordon B. Roberts Agency.
Grateful for the opportunities Oneonta offered for him to build his business and raise his family, Gordie made a commitment to spend 25 percent of his time serving the community. His history of community service impressively includes: Director and past president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, director and past chairman of the Southern Otsego County Chapter of the Red Cross, director and past president of the Oneonta Country Club, director and past chairman of the West Kortright Center, director of the Catskill Symphony Orchestra, Inc., member of the Oneonta City Parks Board, director and past president of the Oneonta Kiwanis Club, director and past president of the Oneonta Chamber of Commerce, director and past chairman of the Key Bank Regional Board, director and past president of the Hartwick College Alumni Association, director and past president of the A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital Board, director of the Methodist Home for the Aging, chairman of the Future for Oneonta Foundation, member of the Board of Trustees of Hartwick College, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the First United Methodist Church, director of the Board of Trustees of the Clara Welch Thanksgiving Home, Hartwick College Citizens Board and member of the Oneonta Lodge No. 466 F&AM Elks Lodge No. 1312, American Legion, Loyal Order of the Moose No. 0465, Eagles Lodge No. 1260, Oneonta Kiwanis and YMCA.
While his level of community service may seem like a burden, for Gordie it was all a labor of love and he would often say he was repaid 10-fold for the time he invested in the community.
Not one to toot his own horn, Gordie attributed the success of his insurance business to the people he worked with, describing the agency staff as tremendous people dedicated to treating customers as friends. He humbly credits his Air Force training and his Hartwick College education as the foundation for whatever leadership abilities he had.
Although he worked tirelessly at his business and in community service, Gordie was a man that enjoyed his life to the fullest, getting the best he could out of each and every day. He lived to enjoy time with his friends and family.
Gordie's wife, Alyce, passed away in May of this year; and he is survived by his sister, Margaret Law of Charlotte, N.C.; his three children, Margo (and life partner, Terry LaCasse) Keyes of Chatham, Marcia (Mike) Davis of Rochester, and Jeffrey (Cindy) Roberts of Ballston Spa; and three stepchildren, Bonnie (and life partner, Charles Pederson) Townsend of Gouldsboro, Pa., Jerry (Michele) Townsend of Cooperstown, and Tracy (Mark) Fjeldal of Clarksburg, Md. Gordie is also survived by his 13 grandchildren, Lindsay (Drew) Valpatic, Scott (Nicole) Crampton, Christine (Dan) Welch, Shannon Keyes, Mary Beth (Michael) Noonan, Peter (Christina) Townsend, Nigel (Jill) Keyes, Rachel Keyes, Kyle Roberts, Josh Keyes, Olivia Roberts, Nikki Keyes and Angelene Roberts. He is also survived by six great-grandchildren, Andrew, Noah and Caleb Valpatic, Michael and Cailyn Noonan and Wynston Crampton.
Family will receive friends from 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010, at the Bookhout Funeral Home, 357 Main St., Oneonta.
A Celebration of His Life will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 30, 2010, in the First United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut St., with Reverend Teressa Sivers, pastor of the church, officiating.
Burial will be held in the spring in Riverside Cemetery in Bloomville.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the First United Methodist Church of Oneonta, 66 Chestnut St., Oneonta, NY 13820 or Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care, 1 Birchwood Drive, Oneonta, NY 13820.
To light a candle or send online condolences visit www.bookhoutfuneralhome.com. Arrangements are being handled by Bookhout Funeral Home, Oneonta.