Lee Morris Roberts, of Mason, Texas, formerly of Tyler, Texas, passed away whilst surrounded by family and friends on August 11, 2023, after a rapid decline due to Lewy Body dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Lee is an 8th-generation Texan, a descendant of the “Old Three Hundred,” the original 300 settler families receiving land grants in Stephen F. Austin’s first and largest Anglo-American colony in Mexico, established in 1821.
Lee was born on September 23, 1948, in Levelland, Texas to Minnie and Elmer Roberts. He is preceded in death by his parents; siblings- John, Ruth, Charles, and Annette; and his beloved first wife, Paula Elliot Roberts. Lee is survived by wife, Sharon Fisher Roberts; sons with Paula- Eli Morris Roberts, and wife Liz, Jesse Spurgeon Roberts, Jeremy Lee Roberts, and wife Deborah, Corey Brandon Roberts, and wife, Lyss; one daughter with Sharon, Erin Elisabeth Roberts, and partner, Dawson Majors; sister, Barbara; and grandchildren- David, Lilly, Jase, Selene, Soleil, Brandon, and Brooklyn.
Lee loved animals, fishing, and playing sports; and he was a talented four-season athlete in high school, excelling in football and track. He graduated from Copperas Cove High School, Central Texas College, and from Texas A&M with a Bachelor of Science in Recreation and Parks in 1973. Lee was a hard-core Aggie fan to the end. Hullabaloo caneck caneck!
The brutal Winter during Lee’s first parks and recreation job in Indianapolis, Indiana convinced him and his young family to get back to Texas, so he snagged the Park Supervisor position in the City of Tyler Parks and Recreation Department.
During his almost three decades as Parks Supervisor, Lee left his imprint on the City of Tyler, whether it be by hacking out the original Rose Rudman Trail or overseeing major renovations to the famous Goodman Museum, Lee always aimed to develop a parks system serving all people, not just some. To list his innumerable indelible marks is unnecessary as you honor Lee simply by going to any local park or athletic field.
Lee was the first City of Tyler department leader to hire women for jobs traditionally held by men, the first to seek funds for employee protective equipment, a leader to leaders, his staff, and volunteers. Lee was brilliant in recognizing brilliance in others. He nurtured those who would go on to be local, state, and national leaders in their disciplines. He respected the gifts each person brought to each table, and listened with patience and care, offering quiet strength in most circumstances. Lee wrangled the attention of community leaders who shared his passion for green space, for trees, for the natural environment.
As the City of Tyler Parks leader, he oversaw staff maintaining city parks, athletic fields, cemeteries, traffic islands, the Tyler Rose Garden and Rose Garden Center grounds, of which he helped plan, all city-owned grounds, and more. For any special event, Lee was in the background making sure folks were where they were supposed to be, doing what they were supposed to do.
Lee fought for more green space, more investment, and more trees. In 1993, Lee was a founder of “TREES,” Tyler Reforestation Encouraging Ecological Stability, the precursor to 2023’s Keep Tyler Beautiful.
An active member of the Texas Turfgrass Association, Lee later became a National Certified Playground Safety Inspector. On retirement from the City of Tyler in 2001, Lee opened Roberts Consulting, LLC, during which time he planned, installed, and inspected playgrounds throughout Texas. In this capacity, Lee is responsible for construction of the Tyler Cancer Bell pavilion on Rose Rudman Trail.
Thereafter, his lifetime dream to work in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department came true--he served as Assistant Park Manager at Sea Rim State Park, and then, as Park Manager at Martin Creek Lake State Park, retiring in 2015. In 2021, Lee and his family moved to the “Little Gem of Texas,” Mason, down by the Llano River, where he enjoyed old Hill Country’s natural beauty and unique Texas spirit.
Special thanks to the incredible Neurology Team on Domitilla #2 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, to Andrea at New Haven Memory Care, to Natalie at Peterson Hospice in Kerrville, Texas and to the awesome team at Hill Country Preferred Senior Care, LLC.
In lieu of flowers, the family desires memorials or contributions be made to any local, state, or national park or system, to a local food bank of your choice, or to the Mayo Clinic Neurology Department at Rochester, Minnesota.
A Celebration of Lee's life is scheduled for 10:00 a.m., Saturday, September 2, 2023, at Lloyd James Funeral Home with burial following at Rose Hill Cemetery in Tyler, Texas.