September 5, 1997
FACULTY Darrell S. “Robbie” Roberts (78)
Monterey Peninsula Herald, CA Sept. 5, 1997
Former Pacific Grove High teacher remembered as tough, fair mentor
Darrell S. “Robbie” Roberts, a decorated Army officer and longtime foreign language teacher at Pacific Grove High School, died of cancer Friday at his home in Tucson. He was 78. Mr. Roberts was born Feb. 9, 1919, in Mangum, Okla. After graduating from Mangum High School in 1936, he began his military career with the Eighth Cavalry at Fort Bliss, Texas, where he served as a horse soldier for four years. With the outbreak of World War II, the horse cavalry was phased out and Mr. Roberts switched to tanks. He became the ranking noncommissioned officer in a reconnaissance unit for Gen. George Patton’s armored troops, during the campaign in North Africa, Sicily and Italy. Wounded while in combat in Italy, he was decorated with a Purple Heart.
After the end of World War II, he attended Officer Candidate School at Fort Riley, Kansas, and received a commision as a second lieutenant before being posted to Japan in 1946. During the Korean War, Mr. Roberts served as a tank platoon commander in an armored unit attached to the Second Infantry Division. For his service, he was decorated with a second Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with “V” for valor in combat.
In 1952, he began studying Persian at the Army Language School (now the Defense Language Institute) at the Presidio of Monterey, after which he was sent to Iran as an adviser to Iranian armored units. After retiring from the Army in 1961, Mr. Roberts embarked on a second career as a foreign language teacher. He completed a bachelor’s degree at Omaha University and then a master’s degree in education at Stanford University, before joining Pacific Grove High School in the fall of 1963.
Mr. Roberts taught French, German and Spanish at the school and also headed its freign language department for 18 years. He retired in 1982. “He was a great teacher. He was stern and strict and required that you be fully in the class, but he was also very caring and considerate of the students’ feelings,” said Renee Jorgensen of Salinas, who studied French with Mr. Roberts for three years. “It was a wonderful combination,” Jorgensen said. “You knew that you didn’t mess up in his class, but as long as you were trying, he worked with you.” His many travels around the world instilled in his students a desire to experience other cultures, she said. “He really encouraged students to look beyond themselves and their small world. He made it seem doable,” said Jorgensen, who credits him with her decision to apply for a scholarship to the Sorbonne in Paris. Mr. Roberts also coached the high school’s golf team for several years in the early 1980s.
After retiring, he continued to work in the district on special language lab projects and as a substitute teacher. An active Mason, Mr. Roberts was an officer in the Pacific Grove lodge and a member of Masonic lodges in Arizona and Oklahoma. He was also a 30-year member of the Order of the Eastern Star, a five-time Worthy Patron of Pacific Grove’s Ocean Spray Chapter and a former Grand Sentinel for the Grand Chapter of California. He was a member of the First Methodist Church of Pacific Grove.
Mr. Roberts and his wife, Verna, lived in Pebble Beach for 30 years before moving to Tucson in 1993. In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Bill of Los Altos, and a siser, Mary Vunah Gillette of Alburquerque, N.M. Another son, Max Robert, died in 1990. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday in Tucson. The Hudgel’s Swan Fuenral Home in Tucson is in charge of arrangements. The family suggests that any memorial contributions be sent to the Donor’s favorite charity.
Class of 1966. All rights reserved.