John Gordon Roberts, III. What can I say about him that probably hasn't been said already. He lived life to the fullest. He embraced each passing day as though it were his last. And most of all, he left a lasting impression on every single person he interacted with, no matter how brief or apparently insignificant the interaction was. This is how I will remember John. And this is the person who left us all behind, with a gaping void and a constantly reverberating "Why?" when last Friday evening the Continental Connection Flight 3407 that he was on crashed into a house just outside of Buffalo, NY. John was on his way to meet members of his family and catch up on some RnR. It was a visit he was supposed to have made in December, 2008, but had to postpone. And I know you might be thinking "If only..." But please don't. I believe he's in a much better place now. And no matter how many times I think about how tragic this was, or why God would do this to someone who served him wholeheartedly, I know that the most important thing for me to do is to remember him. This is for you John. For being a friend, a guide, a mentor, a teacher, and for being as close to a father-figure as I could possibly get in my personal and professional life thus far. Thank you for everything.
I first met John in 2005, when he visited a place that I used to work at, as a client. Although our interaction was brief and focused, -- I was showing him some new software that we had unwittingly acquired in an effort to aid our training delivery -- he seemed very interested by the promise of all that was going on with our company. In fact, as I later discovered, he was on his way to joining our organization and this was part of his initial visit to identify what opportunities existed. That was a little over four years ago. Since that time, I have had the honor and privilege of working with John at the next four companies where I've worked. He was instrumental in identifying roles for me that would utilize my potential. My potential, ha ha ha. I think we worked well together and I can't thank him enough for providing me the opportunity to work with him and to get to know him as a person. As far as possible, I tried not to disappoint, and to constantly upgrade my skills to be able to take on more challenging roles, and to win his approval. I can't thank him enough for believing in me, seeing my potential, and for taking an active interest in my life and what I was doing with it.
Why am I doing a tribute to John? Well, as life often tends to remind us of its transitory nature, its here-one-second-gone-the-next ways, I guess I'm trying to make sense of this loss that I've just experienced in my life. I can't begin to imagine what his family is feeling at the moment, not to mention the impact this has had numerous friends and colleagues who have had the opportunity to know him and work with him in the past. All I know is that working with John and getting to know him a little better as a person has changed my life for the better. From all the times we played good-cop-bad-cop when interacting with clients, to his insatiable curiosity about my undying sarcasm and cynicism, to his constant quest to understand the world around him by engaging with it completely. There was a childlike innocence about him when he tried to reconcile questions like The Impact of Christianity on Modern Day India, or even my personal favorite, The Lack of a Social Revolution in India Despite the Continuously Expanding Gap Between the 'Haves' and the 'Have-nots'.
These are but memories now. But they're very fond memories for me. This is my tribute to a gentleman scholar and a thorough professional. One so knowledgeable that he could engage you in conversation about almost anything. One so adept at identifying the real issues at hand and who provided the vision in times of utter darkness, that it left everyone around him in awe. His current workplace will vouch for the fact that he's irreplaceable, and so he will remain for me as well. Rest in peace John.
As a sort of fitting end to this tribute, I managed to find a couple of newspaper articles with short write-ups on the victims of this tragedy. More specifically, I managed to find a couple that did a brief tribute to John. Here they are:
Roberts III, son of Apple Granny’s restaurant owner John Roberts, was 48. He was reportedly returning to Niagara County for a visit with his family when the crash occurred.
Through a spokesperson, the Roberts family declined comment on Friday.
'The Roberts are a very well liked family in Lewiston,' said Town Supervisor Fred Newlin. 'This is a terrible tragedy that has befallen them and we should respect their rights of privacy and keep them in our thoughts and prayers.'
Source: Olenick, J., Pye, D., & Scheer, M. (). PLANE CRASH: Crash hits home. The Tonawanda News. Retrieved from <http://www.tonawanda-news.com/local/local_story_044235839.html>
John G. Roberts III, a Lewiston native who lived in India, was returning home for an overdue visit with family members.
'It's sad because we all haven't seen him for such a long time, and everyone was patiently waiting for him and [Flight 3407] just crashed like it was nothing,' said Chelsea Gagliardo, Roberts' niece.
Roberts, 48, was the oldest of five children and grew up in Lewiston. He lived in the area off and on, traveling overseas often, Gagliardo said.
'The last time I saw him was probably over a year ago," she added. "I was so excited to see him.'
Roberts had been an active member of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Niagara Falls when he lived in the area.
Roberts' father, John Jr., is the owner of Apple Granny's, a popular restaurant on Center Street, the main drag in the Village of Lewiston.
'I grew up in Lewiston and John Roberts [the father] has always been a fixture here,' said Bridget Schroeder, owner of the neighboring Village Bake Shoppe. 'He's 100 percent supportive of the community and area as a whole, and takes great pride in his family and community. I hate to think of something like this happening to this family. It's a real tragedy.'
Sandy Hays Meis, consulting director of Lower Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce, agreed.
'Especially, with the nature of their (restaurant) business, the Robertses touch so many people here in Western New York,' she said. 'We all share their grief and pain, and wish them peace.'
Source: Sapong E., Sharp T., & Vogel C. (). Passengers and crew aboard Flight 3407: Their stories. The Buffalo News City and Region. Retrieved from <http://www.buffalonews.com/515/story/579271.html>