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Wednesday, Oct 21 2020
 
 

Charles H. Roberts PhD


I guess I will start by saying I don't know where to start. Everyone thinks their father is the best father to ever father (most people at least). I won't assert such a claim as it seems too cliché. Instead i will tell you the type of father he is and let the facts speak for themselves.

  • The type of father that doesn't let a B slide in a math class. Education was not something my parents took lightly. My brothers and I were held to a very high standard when it came to our education, especially math. At a young age my father would take me to the classes he was teaching at MSU from time to time. Mostly to run the camera for footage no one would ever watch, but I would also end up learning during the process. My cousins used to make fun of us for going to "Math and science" camps during the summer, we had to because my dad was the one running them! Yet again, something I took for granted until my first few days in college, a time when most freshman are overwhelmed when they see the amount of school work and the new social atmosphere. Not the Roberts boys. I felt prepared and ready to tackle what the professors were throwing at me because of all the extra homework my parents had given me over the years. Did it work? Two sons graduated from Georgia Tech, and the third son from the school up north that shall not be named.
  • He always had my back (unless it was a teacher saying I did something wrong). Once, I was being bullied on my long walk to 6th grade. After a couple days of this I decided to tell my dad. Did he go to the principle? Find the bullies parents and have a nice "sit down"? No, he followed me to school and hung back just enough that when the bullies showed up like they always do, he sprung into action. For the next 6 years those two didn't come near me, and even feared me a little. It was nice...
  • Those long trips to Georgia. About once a year, my dad and I would get into his Nissan Z and embark on a journey to Macon to see my grandparents. Just me and him. We had long talks about school and life. I learned to love Ottis Redding and the Jackson 5, though the Jazz he played never seemed to stick. He regaled me with stories about how he invented wine cooler by mixing kool-aide and rum in college, or his grand idea for satellite radio. Sometimes there was some adventure. Once I woke up in the middle of the night to find the car pulled off to the side of the road, my dad no where in sight. When I called out he appeared outside of the car changing a tire. Another time we stopped at a restaurant in Tennessee where we just happen to meet Alex Haley, and I subsequently embarrassed him by not knowing who Mr. Haley was. I spent the next 5 days at my grandmas house watching Roots on VHS.
  • His effect on my friends lives. To this day, my friends from Lansing will tell you about the Math Club my dad started in Junior High, something we all thought at the time as nerdy but still had fund hanging out and solving logic puzzles. They will tell you that while we thought it made us outcasts, the critical thinking skills we learned in that club became very important later in life. Here is one of his favorites. There's a duck in front of two ducks, a duck behind two ducks, and a duck in the middle. How many ducks are there?
  • SOHCAHTOA and the dipstick. While most dads where teaching their kids about carburetors and fishing rods, our dad was busy explaining complex trigonometric ideals to us. Once, my car was making a funny noise, so i gave my dad a call as a son should. My dad asked me to check the oil. "Oil?" I said, "How do I do that?" He asked me to pop the hood and find the dipstick. "What's a dipstick?" I asked in return. "Boy, you don't know what a dipstick is?" "No dad! Too much SOHCAHTOA, not enough cars."

These words are only a small fraction of what my father means to me, a fraction where the numerator is love, and the denominator is knowledge. Sure, I have a credit card made out to "Benjmain Roberts" because I still often misspell my own name, but I have the greatest model of a father and husband anyone could ask for. Every bit of the man I am today is just me trying to be my father. He set a very high bar in life, and given his beginnings, that was a hard thing to do. He was firm with the belt, and giving with the love. Even in high school when I worked late at a movie theater and would come home and pass out on the couch, only to be asked to move by my dad who was kicked out of the bed for snoring, I knew that was love. Every punishment, love. Every bit of yardwork, how to work hard. Every bit of extra math home work, preparedness. Every time he threw a party for mothers odd/prime numbered birthdays, that surprises keeps a marriage alive. He taught me so many things that I haven't even realized yet. His spirit may be gone, but his legacy lives on, and I cant wait to see what he teaches me next.




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Thursday, May 24 2012
 
 

Happy 65th Birthday Dr. Roberts


It's always said that a bond between and father and his son is special, this is especially true in our family.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a momma's boy though. This could be that since my mom didn't get the daughter she always wanted she treated me as such, whatever the case may be, I do love both of my parents all the same. Most boys fond memories of their dad include throwing the baseball or football around in the front yard or building something. My fond memories with my dad don't center around sports or trips to the hardware store.  I did play a lot of sports with my two older brothers, which probably eased up a lot of the athletic pressure off my dad, but my parents are academics, not athletes! My fond memories of my father are a bit different that most kids.

Every Saturday when I was a kid, my father would cook me grits in a large orange bowl (which I still own to this day), and then take me skating down in Holt. Just me and him, not my brothers. These days were super special to me, because I got dad all to myself, combined with two of the greatest loves in my life as a kid, grits and skating.  Once a year my dad would also take a trek to Georgia to visit his family. Most trips to the south we took involved packing the whole family in a van, well this one special trip a year, it would be just me and my dad in his '86 Nissan Z T-top. I would bring some of my favorite toys to keep me company in the passenger seat. It was on these long road trips I would learn my appreciation for old music such as the Jackson 5 and Otis Redding, and learn about Jazz, Blues, and one of my favorite artists, Bobby McFerran. I would always look forward to these 12 hour trips with my dad.

My families appreciation for math is well documented. I always loved letting my dad teach me math growing up. Having a dad that not only has a PhD in math, but also teaches at your schools will force you to excel even if you don't want to. I love even still the arguments and discussions that take place in our family regarding math. For instance, one thanksgiving we got into an argument over whether or not pi was a decimal (which of course my dad won). This argument went past dinner and into emails for a few months. At my moms 57th birthday, we held a surprise party, during her speech, my mother says "I'm very surprised, I mean it's not a big birthday like 60, matter of fact isn't 57 a prime number?", which sparked a very brief debate amongst our family in front of about 200 people, which ended when i realized it was divisible by 19 and 3. My dad has always been my go to guy when I am tutoring and struggling to help one of my students answer a problem. Often times the student has answered what they wanted to and moved on, and my dad and I (and sometimes the rest of the family if an email was sent out to see if anyone else knew) would continue the conversation for days.

Another great thing about my dad, are some of the words that come out of his mouth! As I noted before my dad has a PhD, it's not that the things he says are dumb, just not what you'd expect a man so well educated to say. Here are 10 of my favorite stories of stuff my dad has said/done.

  1. I told y'all - My dad sometimes thinks he is a sports "prophet". One year at thanksgiving, he went on and on about how the eagles were going to beat the cardinals that night. Well after dinner my dad took his usual nap in living room of my brothers house while the rest of us played some board games. During a lull in the board game my brother Reggie peaked over his should to look at the score in the game, and said to the rest of the table "uh-oh, the eagles are winning, you know dads going to come in here talking about 'I told y'all!'". Almost on queue, my dad comes walking into the room, pants still undone and walks right up to the TV.  He has all of our attention at this point. After staring at the TV for several seconds my dad turns around to the rest of us and exclaims "I told y'all!!". We erupted in laughter, and the only thing I could hear was my mother saying "Could you be more predictable!".
  2. Captains Hat - Whenever we have gatherings at my parents house, my dad gives groups of people tours of the lake on his boat, being sure to wear his captains hat my mom bought him some years ago. One year my dad became exhausted at giving tours and after returning from one trip came up to me and asked "hey you mind taking the next group out, I'm tired." I replied "sure, does this mean I get to wear the hat?", to which my dad retorted "... never-mind I'll do it"
  3. Something Sweet - Every summer during college I would invite a large group of friends to my parents house to hang out for a whole day.  One year my friend Leigh found herself in the kitchen in the basement looking for something to eat. My dad asked her what she was looking for and she said "something sweet". My dad ran upstairs, and when he returned Leigh could only stand there with a smile on her face as my dad stood in front of her with a large canister of sugar.
  4. Airport run - The is a conversation between my mother and father I overheard: MOM: "oh by the way my flight lands at 1PM" DAD: "Ok, whats that mean to me?" MOM: "... That you should be there to pick me up!" DAD: "oh right right!"
  5. Chauffeur - A direct quote "Thanks Beej for taking you mother out today so I don't have to. It's not that I don't want to spend time with you honey, I'm just glad I don't have to chauffeur you around."
  6. Dads Mouse - A phone conversation between me and my dad. DAD: 'This wireless mouse you got me doesn't work, every time I move it up, it moves down, every time I move it right it goes left!" ME: "...turn it around 180 degrees" DAD: "Ohhh ok"
  7. No Sound - Dad called me one day complaining that the sound on his computer did not work. I made a special trip home to look into the situation. Upon examining the computer I reported back to my dad "Yeah, the issue seems to be you don't have any speakers hooked up to the computer."
  8. The last place you look - My dad lost his glasses in the house one time, and me and my mom were helping him look for them. After discovering them in the couch cushions, I walked into the bedroom to show my dad. He says "oh ok, i thought they were under the bed" and proceeds to get on his knees and rifle through a few things underneath the bed, thus proving that It's not always the last place you look.
  9. Itis - One year during Christmas dinner at my house, as dinner was completing and we were just chatting my dad asked me "How is work going?" I said "Going alright, i got a few projects I need to finish before the new... dad?... dad?", as I noticed dad had drifted off to sleep in the middle of my reply.
  10. Home Alone - This is actually a conversation between me and my mom. MOM: "Oh that's Matthew Mchconoaughy, you know he was the little boy in those Home alone movies?" ME: "What? no, that was Mculley Kaulken" MOM: "That's not what your father said!"

Here's to you dad on your 65th birthday. I have only known you for 29 and a half of those years but can tell just how great you are not only from my experiences, but from meeting those who have known you longer. A kid couldn't ask for a better father, well I guess he could ask, but that function has a local maximum at you (a little math humor). Thank you dad for always being there when I needed you, emphasizing to me and my brothers the importance of education and hard work, and sure we didn't play a lot of sports together or build anything, but thanks to you I can calculate sports statistics before the folks on the TV, and know the importance of keeping a copy of the yellow pages in my toolbox. I love you dad, Charles, Dr. Roberts, I can't wait to celebrate 65 more birthdays with you.



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