Deceased April 11, 1992

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In Memory

David Roberts died April 11, 1992. David and George Berry ’75, his longtime companion, were killed together in an automobile accident. They were taking a friend from Boston out for a picnic in Maryland. Just like them—always doing something nice for a friend.

David was only 36. He grew up in Remsen, N.Y., outside Utica, amidst splendid countryside with gorges and falls and his mother’s magnificent gardens. His survivors include his father, David H. Roberts II; his stepfather, David Murphy; his sister, Bronwyn Davis; and his brother, Dr. Laurence Roberts.

David graduated from Amherst after taking a year off in New York to dance with the Martha Graham School. It gave him an exotic air, which his study of Arabic only reinforced. At Amherst, he helped lead a small madrigal group with his clear tenor voice. He then moved to D.C. and earned his master’s degree in Arabic studies from Georgetown University. He also studied at Johns Hopkins University in the School of Advanced Internationals Studies and at the University of Cairo, Egypt.

After his degree work, David worked at the National Archives, the Saudi Arabian Information Office and then at the State Department. For the past five years, he worked with Mobil Oil as a public affairs associate, where he helped direct Mobil’s cultural projects in Middle Eastern and other countries. There he could use his Arabic on the job, study the culture and travel to the Mideast with some regularity. It seemed he had hit his stride. David had just finished assisting in the editing of a scholarly book called The Genius of Arab Civilization, published by New York University Press, to which he also contributed an article.

David had a gentle sense of grace and art in everything he did. He planted beautiful gardens, including a Japanese rock garden at his mother’s home in Remsen. David had a zest for life unequaled by many. He loved to hike and canoe in the wilderness, particularly in the Adirondacks. He was a master baker and cook. Although he never worked as a teacher, he lived his life teaching his friends about the things he loved—about music, art, history, plants, books, the theater and dance, to name only a few. It was impossible to be around David without sharing his infectious enthusiasm for whatever he was doing at that moment.

David was as loving and supportive a friends as anyone could be. He was the kind of friend we are lucky to meet once in a lifetime, the kind of friend who touched your heart and made it bigger, the kind of friend that made us feel cherished and happy and full of life.

David always seemed to have time for his friends. He and George were gracious and generous hosts, the kind with whom one should be careful because they did not like to say “no,” even when it would have eased their lives for them to have done so. David had a gentle wit and kind spirit. He always found something apt to say to end a phone conversation or an evening spent in good company. It is a cruel irony to have him yanked away without being able to say goodbye. We shall miss him.

David and George had been together for 11 years, having met in D.C. shortly after David graduated from Amherst. Their relationship endured all the strains and blessings of accommodating a two-career family, including a year of weekend commutes during which David worked for Mobil in New York City and George stayed in D.C. When it became clear Mobil was not going to relocate David to D.C. as quickly as anticipated, George came up to New York. Then just two years ago, they returned to D.C. They had signed a contract to buy a house together just a week before they died.

I think David would have wanted each of us who knew him to do something in his memory. Plant a garden. Read a book. Go out and dance. Live.

Tim Williamson ’79 and Sharon Miller ’80