A Tribute to J. Larry Roberts

J. Larry Roberts

Dear Mr. Roberts,
As a daughter of an alcoholic father, your English class was a safe haven for me. You did not know it at the time, but you saved me not only then but throughout the years. You were the first adult male that respected my opinions, understood my dreams, and shared my passion for poetry, literature, music, and the arts. You encouraged my storytelling and my writing when no one else was in my corner. You said, “Sheri, just keep writing. Just keep writing your way through it.” At the time you didn’t know the abuse I suffered at home until we reconnected years later on Facebook. We have spoken almost daily since, either on Facebook or privately by email.

Mr. Roberts, I will never read another poem without thinking of you. (Every Mark Twain meme will remind me of you.)

I will never read another piece of literature without thinking how you would interpret the story.

I will never watch the movie, The Graduate again without wanting to post on your Facebook wall to discuss the wedding scene one more time.

I will never watch a Detroit Lion’s game without looking to see what harassing comment you posted on my Facebook wall; but Mr. Roberts, I’m sure they will go on to win the Super Bowl this year. I know you loved my constant hashtag, #SheriFootball.

I will never watch another Detroit Tiger’s game without wanting to razz you about Manager “Awesome.” I smile when I suggested you have your own #hashtag. You would have none of it.

Mr. Roberts, you were the father I wanted. You were the father I needed. I am eternally grateful to you for being my high school English teacher, for your compassion, your encouragement, and challenging me to be the best human being I can be.

I love you, Mr. Roberts.

I will miss you every day of my life until we meet again. And despite what you think, we will meet again in heaven. I know it – because that is where all the beautiful poetic souls go when they are truly retired from teaching. Until then Mr. Roberts, I will continue to write my way through it – Thank you for showing me the way.

All my love,



Sheri Prielipp-Falzone, President of the Class of 1979 – Addison High School



Mr. Roberts adored his wife, Jill. He was looking forward to the day when she retired from teaching. He loved all of his children, and as a proud father spoke often to me about them, as well as, as his siblings.

Mr. Roberts was knowledgeable on all subjects – poetry, literature, music, film, religion, sports, and politics – you name it. He was a very passionate man and could tirelessly debate on any topic. He always told me he was retired from teaching. But to those who knew him best, he was teaching us all how to live honorably and die honorably right to the very end.

8 thoughts on “A Tribute to J. Larry Roberts

  1. Tammi Donovan Clancy July 16, 2016 / 11:00 pm

    Fabulous and touching and just right, Sheri! Tammi (Donovan) Clancy


  2. Deb Elston July 17, 2016 / 2:27 am

    Sheri, this was amazing. Will you be at the funeral on Monday? I will and I will be speaking. And reading tributes from former students. If you are attending, would you be comfortable reading this at the funeral? Or if not, would you mind someone reading it? We could leave your name off too in case you were uncomfortable. Please let me know. Your writing is superb.


      • Deb Elston July 17, 2016 / 5:43 pm

        I look forward to meeting you on Monday! FYI I graduated with your sister Sandra. 🙂


  3. Scott Witte July 22, 2017 / 8:56 pm

    Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953. Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    The one thing I will never forget from your class, is this poem you read with tears in your eyes. The same poem you read at your father’s funeral. I think of it regularly, smiling only now in understanding what it really means to me as an adult. What a ray of sunshine you were to the world Mr. Roberts. A light yourself in a world of uncertain children.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s