Kenneth Ray Roberts, 72, passed away on Thursday, March 16, 2023, at his home with his devoted wife, two sisters-in-law, and his niece by his side. Visitation will be 6:00-8:00 PM on Thursday, March 23, 2023, at Elmwood Funeral Home Chapel, 5750 Hwy. 277 South, Abilene, Texas. A Funeral Service will be at 2:00 PM on Friday, March 24, 2023, at First Baptist Church Sanctuary, 1333 N. 3rd Street, Abilene, Texas.
Ken was born in Abilene, Texas, to Miriam Ruth and Herbert Milton Roberts on May 15, 1950. He graduated from Abilene High School in 1968 and received his BBA in 1973 from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas.
Ken married Robin Nita Smith on September 14, 1985, at First Baptist Church Chapel in Abilene, Texas. They were married 37 years. Ken spent his entire life in Abilene and was owner of Roberts Studio Downtown, a photography studio established by his father in 1950. Ken learned to print black and white photos at an early age. In the 1970s, the studio made the change from black and white to color photographs. Ken continued to process his photos in the studio where each photo was custom printed. Even when Roberts Studio switched to digital photography in 2003, Ken continued to print his own photos.
Ken enjoyed every aspect of photography, from shooting the photographs to processing the final prints in the studio. However, talking with the customers was what Ken enjoyed most. Whether it was photographing children or the entire family, portraits for business, capturing priceless images at a wedding, or restoring vintage photos, Ken enjoyed getting to know the people and learning the history behind each vintage photo.
People would see Ken around town either driving his Miata or riding his bicycle, usually with a camera around his neck or close by. He may be on location at Hardin-Simmons University, Hendrick Medical Center, Hendrick Home for Children, First Baptist Church, his parents’ backyard, or at your home or business. No matter the day or time, regardless of major holidays or weekends, Ken was available to capture that special image that would be treasured for years.
Ken was a member of First Baptist Church and began attending when he was just a few weeks old. He was a deacon and served on several committees including the renovation of the church Sanctuary and Family Life Center. Ken, his wife, and sister-in-law taught the 4 year-old Sunday School class for over 20 years. He also volunteered with the Big A Club at City Light Ministries for over 25 years working with young children from the downtown Abilene area. He also volunteered with the community meals at City Light and photographed many individuals and families who attended so other volunteers could associate a name with a face.
Ken never met a stranger and was always willing to serve his church and community any way possible. No task was too insignificant for him, even emptying the trash receptacles downtown.
Ken had many hobbies. He enjoyed riding his bicycle to work, playing handball at noon and also traveling out of town for tournaments. He ran many foot races and marathons in Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin, and Abilene. Ken loved all genre of music. He played French horn at Abilene High School and continued to play after college. Ken was a charter member of the Abilene Community Band which was established in 1976. He enjoyed hearing the FBC Sanctuary Choir and the community choir, Celebration Singers, of which his wife is a charter member. Classical music was very relaxing for Ken, and he and Robin attended the Abilene Philharmonic concerts for over 35 years.
Ken was devoted to his parents and cared for them until their death. He was so proud of his daughter, Kristen, and her accomplishments. He would beam when he talked to others about her being an ICU nurse. She cares deeply for her patients and their families and treats them with love and respect. Ken admired that about her. Ken adored his little grandchildren more than he could even express. He waited a long time to be called “Pop” but finally in 2016 that dream came true. Ken cherished each video call from them. He didn’t get to see them in person often, since they live in Oregon, but those precious times together were all the more meaningful.
Ken’s final years were not easy after his stroke in 2015, but he was never bitter or depressed about his situation. Even though he couldn’t run, ride the bicycle, play handball, or play his French horn due to paralysis, he still had a positive outlook on life. He cared deeply for his wife, daughter, grandchildren, his parents-in-law, and his two sisters-in-law and their families who called and visited often these past 7 years.
We are comforted knowing Ken is now running or bicycling on the streets of gold with his camera in hand taking the most breathtaking photos imaginable.
Ken is preceded in death by his parents Miriam Ruth and Herbert Milton Roberts and parents-in-law Robert T. Smith and Suzanne R. Bass.
Ken is survived by his wife of 37 years Robin Nita Roberts, daughter Kristen Roberts Hamilton and husband Whitney, grandchildren Renley, Ailish, Mikayla, and Tiernan Hamilton, brothers Gary Roberts and wife Mary and Jay Roberts, aunt Jody Roberts, sisters-in-law Suwanee Smith and Lucinda Price, brother-in-law Bill Smith and wife Kathy, father-in-law Dean Bass, mother-in-law Mary Smith, nieces Earley Barnes-Ullrich and wife Karen, Amy Roberts Riggs and husband Bobby, Tiffany Roberts Goodman and husband Kirk, Emily Roberts Subash and husband Johnny, and Amy Price, nephews Sam Roberts, Timothy Price and wife Brittani, Aaron Price and wife Ashley, Aaron Smith and wife Mikayla, and William Smith, and numerous great-nieces and great-nephews.
Pallbearers are Ken’s nieces and nephews: Earley Barnes-Ullrich, Amy Roberts Riggs, Tiffany Roberts Goodman, Emily Roberts Subash, Sam Roberts, Timothy Price, Aaron Price, and Amy Price.
Honorary Pallbearers are Ken’s handball and running friends: Stan Chapman, James Caton, Don Eiland, Larry Robertson, Steve Cates, and Bob Fink.
The family would be honored for memorials to be given to either of these two ministries that meant so much to Ken: First Baptist Church City Light Ministries, P. O. Box 85, Abilene, TX, 79601, or Abilene Community Band, 2541 Meadow Lake Dr., Abilene, TX, 79606.