Thomas Gene Roberts, 80, died April 12, 2015, in Phoenix AZ. He passed peacefully, surrounded by his family. He died of heart failure though he had spent a lifetime dealing with the consequences of polio contracted in 1956, during his senior year at Wake Forest College. He grew up on a tobacco farm in Wake County, NC. He earned his BA in philosophy from Wake Forest College; his Master’s degree in counseling from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ; and his Ph. D. in special education from UNC. Thomas was a pioneer in special education, and developed curriculum for St. Louis County, Missouri. After moving to Arizona with his wife and young family in 1970, he began teaching at Arizona State University, where he remained for 27 years, retiring as Department Chair of Special Education. He then pursued his life’s avocation, creating beautiful, intriguing wood bowls from exotic and native trees. His artwork earned him many awards at art centers and exhibits. His other favorite pastime was grabbing a hat and finding a sunny spot where he could sit and read the latest mystery.
Thomas is survived by his loving wife of 56 years, Jean Reed Roberts; his children, Amy Elise (Laurence Cropley) Roberts, Rebeka Lee Roberts, and Nathanial Allen Roberts, all of California; his granddaughters Lucinda Cropley and Adina Roberts; his brothers Billy (Shirley) Roberts and Wayne (Judy) Roberts, and his sisters, Ann Pearce and Dale (Andy) Johnson, all of Wake County, NC. A celebration of his life was held April 16, at The Terraces in Phoenix AZ.