U.S. Navy veteran of World War II

Published November 21, 2018

PLANO, Texas — William (Bill) Lawrence Roberts, 94, passed away peacefully in Plano, Texas on Saturday, November 10, 2018.

Born in Charlestown, Massachusetts on January 20, 1924, Bill was best known for his love of family, his brilliant mind, and the mischievous twinkle in his Irish eyes. Educated as an engineer and attorney, he was a curious and tireless student and loved to be challenged. He embraced everyone he met with an open heart, willing to give the shirt off his back to anyone in need.

During World War II, Bill served on a destroyer escort, the U.S.S. Bracket, with the U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet under Senator Edward Muskie and was awarded three bronze stars for valor and courage before being honorably discharged. His Navy experience helped launch an early career with Radio Corporation of America (RCA). There he led the study of the down-range communication requirements of the Atlantic Missile Range at Cape Canaveral, researched nuclear effects on electronic components in space, and worked with Strategic Air Command General Curtis LeMay to develop the concept and design for the U.S. Air Force World Wide Communication System.

Bill then joined Ramo-Wooldridge where he served as liaison to the U.S. intelligence community, helping to create the Air Force Missile Command Program, more commonly known as “Spy in the Sky.” Ever eager for the next adventure, Bill then joined Litton Industries, where he authored a study in Computerized Fingerprint Analysis for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and led the team that designed, developed, and manufactured the Map of the Lunar Surface for use by NASA in its training of astronauts. To round out his engineering career, Bill joined Collins Radio Company to direct the development and marketing of its Computer Communication Switching System to the U.S. intelligence community.

Even in what was supposed to be his retirement, Bill continued to seek out new challenges. He became fascinated with real estate and served as Vice-President of Paula Stringer Realtors. He then launched his own real estate practice, Burchett & Roberts Appraisers, during which time he also taught residential real estate and appraisal courses at Brookhaven Community College, The Realtor’s Institute, the Institute of Real Estate Appraisers, and the Appraisal Institute. In his later years, as he slowed his work in real estate, he took up the additional challenge of writing adventure novels under the nom de plume Doc Roberts.

Bill undertook so many challenges because he loved the thrill of mastering a new skill. Despite the lack of formal training, he could play any instrument handed to him, a talent he unfortunately failed to pass on to his children. He grew beautiful orchids, took breathtaking pictures, and led his family on many a boating adventure, including once running the boat aground. He even once adopted a monkey as a family pet. He loved our country and served in many civic positions including an appointment as upstate Co-Chair of Robert Kennedy’s New York Senatorial campaign.

Bill was deeply loved by his friends and family. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, James and Mary Galvin Roberts of North Reading; his sister, Elizabeth Bussey; and his first-born son, James Roberts of Longwood, Florida. He leaves behind his very forgiving wife, Josephine DeLeo Roberts, who put up with him and his shenanigans for over 73 years. He is also survived by his daughter, Linda M. Glover; his son, William L. Roberts; his daughter-in-law, Melinda Roberts; his daughter-in-law, Rebecca Ann Roberts; his grandchildren, Christina Capodanno, Amanda Glover Austin, Jamie Glover Smith, and Kaitlyn Roberts; and three great-grandchildren – Sterling Smith, Avery Austin, and Everett Austin – who were the delight of his later years; as well as nieces, nephews, and cousins galore in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts and Waterford, Ireland.

Local arrangements by Croswell Funeral Home. A private burial service will be held at the Riverside Cemetery in North Reading, Massachusetts.