Valley News -

By Jeff Pack

Former Mayor Ron Roberts to be laid to rest


Last updated 2/15/2019 at 2:29am

Courtesy photo

Services in honor of Ronald H. Roberts will take place Friday, Feb. 15, at Rancho Community Church. The public is invited.

One of Temecula's most impactful public servants will be honored Friday, Feb. 15, in services planned for the former mayor and city councilman who died Monday, Feb. 4.

Ron Roberts spent 24 years on the Temecula City Council helping to establish and revitalize many of the shining examples of success the city has enjoyed since its inception in 1989.

"Ron and I were both elected to the Temecula City Council in 1992 and served together for many years," California state Sen. Jeff Stone said in a statement. "His fingerprints are all over the city, from the revitalization of Old Town to Duck Pond Park which he helped create and serves as the entrance to the city, to the beautiful library he fought so hard to get built that now bears his name, the Ronald H. Roberts Temecula Public Library.

"Ron's ability to bring people together, and his wise counsel, contributed greatly to the quality of life people in Temecula and all of Riverside County enjoy today," Stone said.

During his public service career, Roberts touched the lives of several of the city's fellow public and elected servants.

"When I was first elected to the Temecula City Council in 1997, I knew little about local government or how to be an effective council member," Jeff Comerchero, who left the city council last year, said. "I had the extreme good fortune to have the more experienced Ron Roberts there to guide and teach me.

"I couldn't have had a better mentor and role model. Ron showed me, by example, the benefits of getting involved in regional, statewide and national issues and the organizations that provided the forums to do that. He also introduced me to the people in those organizations who facilitated my own growth as a city leader," Comerchero said.

City Manager Aaron Adams remembered being a young intern with the city at the government's Business Park Drive location. The building was so small that Adams had to go to the human resources department each morning to find out who had called out sick so he could find a place to work for the day, he said.

"I did that for a while, and Ron Roberts kind of took notice of that," Adams said. "First I was about as low in the organization is you could get. And he was at the top. I didn't think he noticed me. He called me 'the kid' and he was like, 'you know, why are you always like moving around? Don't they have a place for you here?'"

Roberts went to the city manager at the time and told them to give his office to Adams.

"So here I was, right out of college, just trying to find my way and out of the goodness of his heart, he let me set up shop in his little office," Adams said. "I was forever grateful, for him recognizing me and then sort of giving me a place to work."

Adams said Roberts, a retired California Highway Patrol sergeant, could come across as gruff, but Adams said he saw a different side of him.

"A difficult person to crack," Adams said. "But inside there was a huge heart – a huge heart – and I got to see it on display a number of times over the years."

Adams said when the city council decided to name the new library on Pauba Road in his honor in 2015, it was one of the proudest moments for Roberts.

Roberts was instrumental in lobbying in Sacramento with Adams to secure $8.5 million to finalize the financing of the project.

"At the time he was walking with a cane," Adams said. "We did a dedication ceremony, and he was just beaming. I thought it was a fitting tribute to Ron, and I know he was a very, very touched there. You didn't really see him get very emotional or touched on too many fronts."

Roberts was first appointed to the Temecula Traffic Commission in 1990, where he served until he was elected to the Temecula City Council in 1992, and re-elected five terms continuously, including mayor five times, through December of 2014 when he retired.

Roberts represented Temecula regionally at different times over his tenure as chairman of the National League of Cities Transportation Infrastructure and Services Committee, chairman of the Western Riverside Council of Governments, chairman of the Riverside County Transportation Commission and chairman of the Southern California Regional Rail Authority or Metrolink.

He was also president of Southern California Association of Governments, chairman of Southern California Association of Governments Transportation and Communication Committee, chairman of South Coast Air Quality Management District Mobile Source Air Pollution and Reduction Committee, chairman of the Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival and on numerous other boards, committees and task forces.

"I don't know that everybody realizes the impact of that on so many aspects, not just southwest Riverside County, but the county as a whole," Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington said. "He's been on every board, and he's always represented us with dignity. I don't know that there will ever be another Ron Roberts. It's just amazing, his reach and the giving heart that he displayed for all of us to emulate. He will be missed."

Comerchero said some of his finest memories of Roberts were found when the two traveled together to various board and association meetings.

"My best remembrances of Ron were our travels to National Leagues of Cities semi-annual meetings, and the oft casual interactions we had with the leaders of cities and towns from all over America," Comerchero said. "The knowledge and best practices we brought home to Temecula were invaluable.

"Above all Ron taught me how to be a caring leader with one objective, do the right thing. Although he was always open to hear the opinions of others, in the end, he trusted what he knew in this heart to be right. I shall miss him greatly," Comerchero said.

Adams summed up Roberts value to the community.

"He was just a great man who had a huge heart," Adams said. "But he also had an amazing heart for the city of Temecula in ways that a lot of people never got to see. The projects that he championed, the lobbying that he did in Washington D.C. on behalf of our city. It just goes on and on. His legacy, I think, is very secure in terms what left behind."

Roberts is survived by his wife, Jeanne; son, Ron Jr. and his wife, Kara; daughter, Wendy and her husband, Sam, and five grandchildren.

The public is invited to a memorial service for Roberts at 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 15, at Rancho Community Church, 31300 Rancho Community Way in Temecula.

Jeff Pack can be reached at [email protected]


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