By Jeff Pack
Writer 

Colleagues, family memorialize the life of Ron Roberts

 

Last updated 2/22/2019 at 12:02am

Shane Gibson photo

The Rev. Scott Treadway of Rancho Community Church speaks during a memorial service for Ron Roberts who died Feb. 4, at the age of 78. Roberts was a retired CHP officer and served on the Temecula City Council for 24 years.

More than 100 family members, friends and colleagues gathered Friday, Feb. 15, for the memorial service of Ronald H. Roberts, one of Temecula's most impactful public servants, at Rancho Community Church.

The former Temecula mayor and city councilman died peacefully, Feb. 4. Roberts is survived by his wife Jeanne; son Ron Jr. and his wife Kara; daughter Wendy and her husband Sam and five grandchildren.

The Rev. Scott Treadway led the services, which were opened with a song performed by Temecula City Councilwoman Maryann Edwards.

Sen. Jeff Stone opened a time of personal tributes with a video message he prepared, as he was unable to attend the event.

"As many of you know, I was elected to the city council in 1992 along with Ron, and we really never knew each other before becoming city council members together," Stone said. "However, we quickly became good friends and very good allies on the Temecula City Council. I learned so much from Ron about public safety and his advocacy for so many things, including our public libraries to make those a terrific place for our families to live and work.


"Ron's 25 years of service to our community is a big part of Temecula's greatness," Stone said in his tribute video. "Together we shared many good times and when times were tough, his character and kindness helped lift not just me, but our entire community. Today we say goodbye. He was a good man. He loved his family. He loved his community. He was a good and faithful public servant and we are all better for having known him. We'll miss him greatly that he will forever be remembered by those of us that have the privilege of knowing him."

Stone was followed by Jeff Comerchero, another former Temecula city councilman and friend of the Roberts family.

"No offense to the public safety people in the room, but you know, there's a certain cop mentality, and Ron would be the first one to tell you and talk to you about that, and in many ways, it was the way he got things done, because he's tough," Comerchero said. "But when you got below that exterior and you really got to know the man that Ron was – what a sweetheart, just a teddy bear. So many of us called him that. He had a heart of gold, and he would do just about anything for you if you were his friend, hard not to love that. And I did. And I know my wife did as well."

Comerchero told a story about hoping the new Temecula City Hall would be finished during his year serving as Temecula mayor, playfully pressuring former city manager Shawn Nelson to get it done.

"I was half joking," Comerchero said. "Ron would go in, and since he was the mayor pro tem, and Ron would say, 'Shawn, slow it down a little bit. It's OK. It really doesn't matter.' It was all in fun. And that was the kind of playful relationship that Ron and I always had.


"He did tremendous things for me and my public career as a mentor and a friend. Taught me what it really was to love the city that you live in and to treat it that way every day because that's the way he lived his life. What a great example," Comerchero said.

Former Temecula City Manager Shawn Nelson was next to take the stage.

"Overall of the years, you can imagine all the battles, all the things that we fought side-by-side together in the trenches," Nelson said. "At my retirement ceremony, Ron Roberts gets up and he says, as city manager, I never made a mistake. Now, I knew that wasn't true. But I think, in his own way, what he was trying to do, he was trying to tell me that he was proud of me overall those years. And even though there were many difficult times that we were in the trenches together, I think he was trying to tell me that he had my back. And that he was proud of me.

"Today. I remember Ron Roberts. We all remember Ron and honor him and his legacy," Nelson said.

Granddaughter Taryn Roberts talked about her "Big Grandpa" and painted a picture of the man she grew up loving and respecting.

"He loved to be surrounded by friends and family. He loved to host; he loved to cook," she said. "His love for us was so evident every day, and he was our support, our example and even a kick in the butt when we needed it.

"At Grandpa's retirement ceremony from the city council, I had the privilege of listening to countless stories of the man Grandpa was to work with, how he helped to inspire change for so many people in our community. But many of you would probably be shocked to know that was the first time I had ever heard of so many of those accomplishments. His humility was beyond comprehension and who would have known that my Big Grandpa would have made such a big impact?" Taryn Roberts said.


Ron Roberts Jr. followed and talked about his dad's life history that included going to military school as a child, graduated from San Gabriel High School in 1958 and attended Mt. San Antonio College to study aviation and become a pilot.

Later after meeting his wife Jeanne, Ron Roberts worked at a grocery store, and someone came in to rob the store. During the course of the events, Roberts grabbed a liquor bottle and whacked one of the robbers over the head, knocking him out. Ron Roberts Jr. said one of the responding officers told his dad, "You know, you should become a police officer."

So, in January 1966, Ron Roberts joined the California Highway Patrol. His son recounted a time he was followed during a lunch break from high school.

"I had the honor, a lot of days, of being followed by some CHP officer, who knows who it was, but a lot of times I'd look in the mirror and I would see those Ray-Bans and I'm thinking, 'Yep, that's him,'" Ron Roberts Jr. said. "And he would follow me back all the way to school. And he would wait until we got in front of campus, and then it happened. Lights and siren, the works. 'I'm just making sure you're behaving,' he would say.

"Dad loved. He truly, truly loved. Yes, we got the look. We got, 'Don't mess it up.' But you know him well enough to know what was behind it. Yes, there was that exterior shell, but inside, he was like a marshmallow," his son said.

Ron Roberts was interned at a private ceremony following the service.

Jeff Pack can be reached by email at [email protected]

Shane Gibson photo

Pallbearers carry the remains of Ron Roberts during the conclusion of his public memorial service at Rancho Community Church in Temecula.

 

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