John Roberts, 1942-2019
Little Rock, Arkansas
Published August 25, 2019
John Nunnally Roberts, Jr. was born to Dr. John and Mary Roberts in Little Rock on July 11, 1942. He moved to his home in Hillcrest when he was 4 and met many lifelong friends in the neighborhood. John was predeceased by his parents and his mother-in-law, Laurabelle Brewer. He is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Kathy, his four sons, John N Roberts III (Tamara) and Scott Roberts (Cathey) of Fayetteville, Jason Roberts (Angelica Rogers) and Derek Schaffer of Little Rock. He is also survived by his treasured grandchildren, John Connor (Hayley), Blakely Roberts Ryals (Alex), Donovan, Zoe and Blaine Roberts of Fayetteville and Ridge and Haven Roberts and Skyler and Payton Schaffer of Little Rock. John leaves behind his sister, Joni Stover, and his sisters-in-law Colleen Caton (Larry) and Laura Feeney (Tom) of Oklahoma. Also, his niece, Tiffany Bouziden (Nate) and nephews Grady Caton and Michael Schwartz (Brandi) and great nephews Jordan and Jace Bouziden.
John was only 13 when offered the chance to play in a little joint across from Union Station in Little Rock. John was a proud graduate of Little Rock Hall, where he formed a doo-wop group of Hall High students named the Del-Rays. At 16, Johnny Roberts and The Rebels was formed and went on to become a legendary band in the state during the 1950's and 60's. They played stages like the Silver Moon Club on the "Rock n Roll Highway" in Newport, where Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley had performed on recent nights.
John spent one year at Hendrix in pre-med. Although he was a straight ĎA' student, faculty strongly recommended to John that there were better places than Hendrix for his late-night rock-and-roll serenades to the entire campus. Getting gigs in Conway was not the easiest thing in the world to do, so John decided to take his talents to the University of Arkansas.
Johnny Roberts and The Rebels became THE band in Fayetteville, playing fraternity parties, the Huddle Club and the Shamrock. John and the boys achieved their greatest success by becoming the house band at the popular Rockwood Club. John was a proud member of Sigma Nu fraternity, where he made many lifelong friends who he cherished throughout his life. Over his post-college music career, John played with many wonderful musicians and friends in the bands Johnny Roberts & The New Rebels, Little Joe & The BKs and Johnny Roberts & The Rockets.
With the turn of the century imminent, John officially retired from rock-and-roll on December 31, 1999 at a Rick's Armory sold out show. John chose a long and distinguished business career in advertising and recycling. John used his marketing skills to establish what is known today as curbside recycling in Pulaski County.
John's love of music was only eclipsed by his love of God and his church Pulaski Heights United Methodist where he had been a member since age 14. John served on the Board of Stewards, Staff Parish Relations Committee, Broadcasting Ministry Board and Columbarium Board. He was a founding member of Men Alive and the Koinonia-Dialogue Sunday School Class. John shared his talent of music by singing in the Young Couples Choir, Joyful Noise and Sanctuary Choir. As mentioned, John and Kathy helped start and performed in a group called Little Joe and the BKs. It consisted of church members and all proceeds from their performances went to a scholarship for the outstanding high school senior at PHUMC.
When not involved in family, work or church events John shared his passion for historic preservation by serving as President of the Old State House Museum Associates and on the Old State House Commission. He was instrumental in starting a young persons' club to support the Old State House called The 1836 Club. He wanted persons of all ages to appreciate the importance of the Old State House as a reflection of the history and culture of Arkansas. John also worked with HIRE (Helping Individuals Receive Employment) and on the board of Literacy Action of Central Arkansas.
Built in 1927, the handsome brick bungalow in Hillcrest that has been in the Roberts family since 1945 has been and will continue to be a place for laughter, fellowship, music and family. It is there where John returned to his final resting place. On August 23, surrounded by the love of his life, Kathy, his four sons and the rest of his loving family and friends, John peacefully departed.
John's memorial service will be held at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church at 11 am on Tuesday, August 27th, with a reception to follow in the Great Hall. In lieu of flowers, memorials can be made to the John and Kathy Roberts Endowment at Pulaski Heights United Methodist Church Foundation, 4823 Woodlawn Dr., Little Rock, 72205, or Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, www.bestfriends.org.
Arrangements are under the direction of Ruebel Funeral Home, www.ruebelfuneralhome.com.