Thanks for field house contributions

Published 10:58 am Sunday, June 17, 2007

For the past six months, I have stepped back and allowed my children, Graham and Karianna Roberts to pick up where their dad left off. I can no longer keep my silence. What I have witnessed over the past six months has overwhelmed me — in a wonderful way.

If you had the privilege of knowing my husband, Jerry Roberts, then you know how excited and pleased he would be that this community has pulled together for a common cause, The Jerry Roberts Field House.

As Coach Dee Faircloth gave me the “grand tour” a few weeks ago, I could not believe it! It is truly amazing! When Jerry started talking about this project a couple of years ago, he was very optimistic.

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He and others faced many obstacles to the athletic facility that Vidalia High School desperately needed.

When work finally began on the field house, Jerry and I would leave for work at the same time. As we approached the end of Eleanor Street, he would turn right and I would turn left. I had a feeling that I knew why he was going the “long way” so one morning I followed and met him on the other side of the high school. I watched smiling as he drove past the new field house slowly, sometimes stopping to check everything out as if he were in charge. As we sat there and chatted a few minutes I’ll never forget the smile on his face and the excitement in his voice. As far as I know, Jerry made that right turn every single morning on his way to work. Oh, how I wish he could see it now!

Through the building process, Jerry spent a lot of time with Coach Faircloth and the other coaches. I can only imagine what their conversations must have been like as they imagined what the new facility would be like on the inside. Jerry wanted the kids to feel as if they were playing in the pros. There were so many specifics. Dee, Jerry and others had a plan, but where was the money going to come from to make it all happen?

A few days after Jerry’s death, my mother approached me with the idea of starting The Jerry Roberts Field House Fund in lieu of flowers. Graham, Karianna and I thought it was so appropriate and would have been exactly the way Jerry would have wanted. Friends and family responded like I would have never believed. Soon after, The first Jerry Roberts Memorial “Go Deep” Flag Football Tournament was born and most recently, the first Jerry Roberts Softball Tournament.

The amount of work required for one of these tournaments is enormous. I watched as mine and Jerry’s friends worked tirelessly to help Graham make the flag football tournament a huge success. To Jan Simpson, for organizing everything, you are truly amazing and we are forever grateful. Although you were dealing with your own grief and the loss of your mother, you never wavered.

To Tammy Rouse and all of the Vidalia Women’s Club, for getting the concession stand together and working around the clock — what a privilege it is to be in this club and to call you friends.

To Mike Smith, Cliff Merritt, Gary Paul Parnham, Jackie Johnston, Casey Young and Carl Fuqua, your refereeing abilities would have made Jerry so proud. Your job was long and I know you were so tired, but you hung in there and did it with a smile on your face.

And to Greg Naquin for all of your hard work recently with the softball tournament, it was also a huge success! You are so talented and your guidance and friendship means so much to us.

To the sponsors, Concordia Bank, Delta Bank, Louisiana Home Care, Lasyone Furniture, Vidalia Market, Hometown Sports, Lehmann’s Cash and Carry, Kayes Food Mart, The Vidalia Women’s Club, Concordia Parish Sheriff, Randy Maxwell, Vidalia Police Department, Agriculture Spraying Service, Rhino Graphics, 107.1 The River, Callon Petroleum, Jack McLemore attorney at law, Natchez Coca Cola, ACCS Booster Club, 95 Country, Chuck Norris attorney at law, Miss-Lou Vending, Inc., Lee and Fay Garretson, your generosity has been over the top!

So now you may ask what have you accomplished on the inside of the new Jerry Roberts Field House? Thanks to Sheriff Randy Maxwell and the Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office who donated all of the labor which saved us hundreds if not thousands of dollars, we have 80 plus brand new lockers that Graham describes as “totally awesome.” Your contributions to our parish seem to be never-ending. And last, but certainly not least the Concordia Parish School Board who found the means to make this new building possible.

To Dr. Kerry Laster and members of the board, I believe I can speak for most of the people in our community to say that we are very grateful.

Many, many children will benefit by using The Jerry Roberts Field House and as most of you know, that would make Jerry proudest of all.

Deanie Roberts is the wife of the late Jerry Roberts, who was killed in a plane crash in December.