1932 ROBERT 2023


August 31, 1932 — March 26, 2023

Fort Worth

            To put  himself through college,  Robert Roberson worked at  many varied jobs:  as a hospital orderly, selling real estate, loading pigs into cars for the  Santa Fe Railroad, as an agent for the Wm J Burns  Detective Agency.  While he was with Burns, Bob was hired to guard a man bringing a “Court of Jewels" from Harry Winston’s jewelry collection (including the Hope Diamond)  to display at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas and in San Antonio. Bob so impressed Julius Cohen that he suggested Bob work with him and learn the precious jewelry business.  So  began Bob’s career in the precious jewelry business that would  take him  all over the world.  For almost  30 years he sold  fine diamonds and gems with  Harry Winston, Julius Cohen, David Webb, Tiffany's, and Neiman Marcus.  He was exposed to the finer things in life and to many interesting characters and famous people from around the world.

            Bob was born in Clovis, New Mexico, to Cecil and Juanita Roberson 90 years ago, the oldest of their three children.  Bob’s father was a railroader as were many of the men in his and Juanita's families.  Cecil worked for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad in Clovis.  He was transferred to Carlsbad, New Mexico, as WWII started and was there until after the war’s end when the family was transferred to San Angelo, Texas. Bob attended San Angelo High School and made many life-long friends in his years there. He graduated in 1950.     

             With the idea of being a dentist, Bob  headed to Texas Tech University.  He soon married and started a family.  The young family moved to Dallas where Bob attended SMU.  It was in Dallas that the fateful encounter with Julius Cohen led to his career in the jewelry industry in New York City and all over the world.

            After the go-go 1960's traveling all the time, Bob looked for a less hectic life.  That led him to accept the position of manager of Haltom Jeweler’s Ridglea Store in Fort Worth.  It was at Haltom’s that a mutual friend introduced him to Lucy, the woman who was the love of his life and who would be by his side for the rest of his days.           

            He left Haltom’s to open his own fine jewelry boutique, Robert Roberson & Sons.  When the business recession of 1984-85 hit, his fine jewelry business took a hit too.  He spent time in Venezuela in  gold and diamond mining operations.  But that didn’t pan out.  His South American contact wanted to build a water park in Caracas. He asked Bob to find someone who could design and oversee such a venture.  Bob did  find just such a man. Ed McLaughlin designed theme parks but also told Bob about his  dream of creating a major tourist attraction for Fort Worth by connecting the Fort Worth Zoo, the Cultural District and the renowned but crumbling Fort Worth Stockyards with a vintage steam excursion train which would run over existing but run down railroad tracks running through the heart of Fort Worth.  Bob immediately saw a promising new venture.

            A third partner was needed to make the dream a reality.  Bob found that man in William S Davis.  It took more than two years of negotiations but in 1988 the Fort Worth & Western Railroad was born.  Not only was the historical railroad, the Tarantula Project, now coming into being but the new railroad  immediately had to begin switching  freight for industries on the just purchased  tracks. This small and  unlikely beginning led to the development of one of the outstanding short line railroads in the country today.  FWWR has expanded from the original 6.5 miles of track  to over 275 mile of track today and continues to grow.

            Bob retired as President and CEO of FWWR  in 2008 when various health problems began to slow him down.  “Slow” was a relative word  for him though.   He was an elegant, stylish and dignified gentleman of great refinement.  Bob was interesting and interested, and always fun to be around.  He knew how to tell stories ( and he had many good ones).  He knew how to enjoy life and was happiest when sharing his home in the mountains of Wyoming with his family and friends, but mostly just being with Lucy, whether in Fort Worth, Wyoming or cruising on a windjammer in the Mediterranean or on  the Orient Express Train.   He made friends wherever he went.

             Robert Roberson died peacefully in the early morning hours of  Sunday, March 26,  2023, after a lengthy illness he fought with dogged determination and had  bested for many years. Bob had drawn  the full circle from  railroading family to an amazing career in the precious jewelry business and back to helping found a highly successful short line railroad. 

            His parents, his brother, Don Roberson, and  his son Donnie Roberson, preceded him in death.  He is survived by his devoted companion of 46 years, Lucy Dubuis, his daughter, Elizabeth Evans (Cliff), his son, Randal  Roberson (Angela), his granddaughter, Bonnie Pope (Daniel) and two great grandsons, Hudson and Harrison Pope.  Also by Lucy’s children whom he loved as his own, Elizabeth Snider (Mike), Edward Dubuis( Judy), Willie Dubuis (DeeAnn), and granddaughter Courtney Dubuis and grandson Jake Dubuis, sister, Mary Anne Roberson and  sister-in-law, Shirley Roberson and many nieces and nephews.  He asked that no funeral services be held.

              A  Celebration of  his Life will be held on Friday, June 16, 2023, from 4:00 to 6:30 p.m. at Shady Oaks County Club in Fort Worth.  In lieu of flowers  please consider making a contribution to the charity of your choice in his memory or to Baylor Scott and White All Saints Foundation of Fort Worth or the American Kidney Fund.

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