City Mourns School Board President Killed In Train Accident - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/13/05- Arp

City Mourns School Board President Killed In Train Accident

In Arp, a void as the community remembers school board President Wayne Roberts. The 71-year old died Monday afternoon when he was struck by a train as he crossed railroad tracks on foot. It happened just a few blocks away from Arp schools.

Joy Rousseau works at Arp Schools: "I don't think we can realize he is gone. He was in every activity -- every event. His presence was always there."

Those who loved Wayne Roberts -- the whole city of Arp -- now have memories.  It's fondness for the man everyone called "Papa."

"His whole attitude was that he wanted Arp to be the best it could be, and he gave his life for this community," Rousseau says.

Wayne Roberts had served on the Arp school board since 1968. Through generations of students, parents, and teachers.

"He was for whatever was best for the students," said Arp Superintendent Toney Lowery.

A new auditorium now bears his name.  Even for students, Roberts was there, nearly everywhere they went.

Lauren Caldwell is a senior at Arp High School.

"He was everywhere in the town. Everyone knew him.  He was a good friend to a lot of the older people and some of the students too," she said.

Dr. Ron Sterling, principal of Arp High remembers Roberts as a full-time supporter of athletic and school events.

"He showed up at every game. He was always there in a supporting role. If there was no one else to show up at a game, you could always count on that Mr. Roberts would be there," Sterling said.

Roberts carried a lawn chair to every game. Monday night, the Arp girls won their basketball games. Tuesday night's games were dedicated to Wayne Roberts. 

"He was just special. He epitomized Arp. He was Arp," said Superintendent Lowery.

Bailey Morgan is an Arp High senior.

"It's hard something like this would happen to the little town of Arp.  It's just mind-boggling, you know? You don't want to think it's real, especially to a man like this," Morgan said.

Funeral services for Wayne Roberts are set for 3 p.m. Thursday at the Arp Emmanuel Baptist Church.  That's on East Longview street in Downtown Arp.

The Roberts family did not want to speak on camera, but Wayne Roberts' son Robin told KLTV his father had cataract surgery Monday morning, but was still would have been able to see as he crossed the tracks. However, he was hard of hearing. His son says it was just a horrible accident.

Morgan Palmer, reporting.


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