Ronald E. Roberts Obituary

NI STAFF, NI Editors

Ronald E. Roberts passed away on October 29, 2020 of COVID-19 complications at Ravenwood Specialty Care, Waterloo, Iowa.  He had been a resident at Ravenwood for the past 5 years after experiencing a stroke.  Ronald was born to Mae and Everett Roberts on July 31, 1939 in Chariton, Iowa.   His family moved to East Moline, IL.  where Ron lived his first 9 years.  The family returned to his father’s hometown of Lucas, Iowa where Ron was to later graduate from high school. 

Ron attended Graceland College, graduated from Drake University with a bachelor’s degree, and earned his Masters and Ph.D. degrees from Louisiana State University.   Ron, his then wife, Patricia, sons Alan and Nic relocated to Cedar Falls, Iowa in 1969.  He worked as a Sociology Professor at the University of Northern Iowa from 1969-2001.

Ron was an avid reader, prolific writer on sociological issues and the human experience, lecturer, and an activist for the oppressed and powerless. Growing up in Southern Iowa, he witnessed the lower-social economic strife and felt compelled to be a champion for those less fortunate.  His loving and very close-knit family of origin helped to instill these values. He often told the story of meeting John L. Lewis, United Miners President, in Lucas as a young boy.  His father told him that he had just met a great man, and Ron responded to his father, “He is no better than you!”  Ron would later become an author about John L. Lewis, coal mining, and his childhood town of Lucas, Iowa. He was instrumental in helping to make the John L. Lewis Museum in Lucas a reality.  Ron contributed many articles and artifacts to the museum, as well as giving talks about Lewis and Lucas.

   Ron was generous to a fault to those who were struggling financially or who needed a place to stay, sometimes to his detriment.   Ron’s ability to relate to and connect with people of various social, cultural, and educational backgrounds was an admirable trait.  His students, friends, and family were entertained by his highly original humor.   Some former students remarked to his family that he was a favorite professor at U.N.I. as he challenged their thinking and fostered personal growth. 

Besides being an avid reader, Ron enjoyed traveling abroad to many countries, socializing with his life-long friends and colleagues, viewing movies, biking, riding in the Iowa RAGBRAI, and marathon running in his younger years.  During later adulthood, he attended the Quakers for numerous years.

Ron is survived by his sister, Kay,  who always adored her older brother, his loving son, Alan and wife, Sherri, granddaughters, Morgan and Hannah, nephews, Sean McGee, Corey McGee and his wife Marianne,  brother-in-law, Terry,  great-nephew and niece, Logan and Avery,  as well as a life-long friend, John Negaard, and former wife, Carol.  A special thanks to his professor friends, Jerry Stockdale, Tom Hill, Joe Wells and Larry Gordon who visited and supported Ron during his illness. 

As his last act as a citizen, he proudly exercised the right to cast his vote against the current tyranny.  Ron was preceded in death by his parents, Everett and Mae, and son, Forrest.  May they rest in peace.  Private family service will be held at a later date. Services was planned by Fielding Funeral Homes in Chariton, Iowa.  Memorials may be sent to the John L. Lewis Museum, 102 Division St., Lucas, Iowa  50151.