Glowing tributes as war hero is laid to rest

  • Rich and fruitful life: long-time Sandys resident William Alexander Roberts (Photograph supplied)

Hundreds turned out to pay their last respects to William Alexander Roberts at St James Church on Monday afternoon.

The long-time Sandys resident, who hailed from Somerset Bridge, was affectionately known to family and close friends as “Dougie”.

He lived a rather fruitful and prolific life and died at the ripe old age of 97, three runs short of a century.

William was the youngest of six children born to William Eldon Stuart Roberts and Albertha Lorraine Roberts. His mother, who died six months after his birth, was a direct descendant of the prominent Cann family of Sandys — physicians, politicians, master masons and boat builders for the last two centuries.

William’s eldest daughter, the late Lady Jacqueline Swan, was the spouse of former Premier Sir John Swan; during Saturday’s home-going service he paid his father-in-law a glowing and personal tribute.

William met Dolores Simons at the tender age of 13. They subsequently married four years later, on September 26, 1940. Together, they endured a loving and sustaining marriage of 76 years in which time they had six children — three boys and three girls.

William was a dedicated, firm and resourceful husband and father who educated most of his children to college level, undertaking many full and part-time jobs to make ends meet.

He was a decorated Second World War veteran. He went to fight for Queen and country while serving as a soldier in the Bermuda Militia Artillery for a period of two years, beginning in 1944. The BMAs were trained in North Carolina and stationed in Naples, Italy; upon their arrival at the Bay of Naples they were astounded to see ships ablaze.

They acquitted themselves quite admirably in the conduct of their service, guarding 1,000 German prisoners of war while stationed in North Africa, and were awarded with several medals. Upon their return to Bermuda from the field of battle, they received a hero’s welcome.

William was a plumber by trade who apprenticed at the Royal Naval Dockyard. He was then hired as a technician at the Bermuda Gas and Utility Company where he served as a dedicated and loyal employee for 35 years prior to retiring as assistant service manager.

He was an avid golfer and a member of the now defunct Triangle Golf Club. William played regularly at Port Royal Golf Club, usually on Saturdays.

He became a Master Mason in 1978 when he was installed as a member at the Somers Isle Lodge, located at White Hill in Somerset. A decade later, in 1988, he was raised to the level of Worshipful Master, serving in that capacity for one year. A great moment in his Masonic career occurred when two of his sons, Altamont and Kevin, also became Master Masons.

William was a humble man of resolute character and of strong convictions. He, without doubt, was a devoted and dedicated husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He embraced all those who loved him and he unhesitatingly reciprocated love in equal measure.

UPDATE: this article has been amended to clarify that the funeral of William Alexander Roberts was on Monday and not last Saturday