Joseph Harry Roberts died peacefully on October 20, 2020 in Weston, Wisconsin. He was born on June 25,
1934 in Vero Beach, Florida, the 12th of 13 children. His parents were James Everett Roberts and Grace Geneva
(Parker) Roberts. He met his wife, Barbara Jane Grubbs, at the annual Church of God Camp Meeting in Florida
in 1953, and they were married on September 7, 1957 at Kendall Church of God in Miami, Florida.
He was preceded in death by wife, Barbara; brothers, Harold, James, and Billy; sisters, Valma, Amy, Freda,
Elva, Margaret, and Ella Mae; and grandson-in-law, Michael Doll.
He is survived by his daughters, Jeanne (Jeff) Klapperich and Elaine (Alan) Weygandt; sisters, Annie (Art)
Sanger, Joann (Billy) Waddell; brother, Charlie (Judy) Roberts; grandchildren, Anne (Dan) Booker, Laura
(Scott) Welge, Michael (Katie) Klapperich, Adam (Tonya) Klapperich, Sharon Doll, Stephen (Kristin Rie)
Weygandt, Michelle (Jeff) Polsean; great-grandchildren, Miles and Ezra Booker, Nathan and Seth Welge; and
dozens of nieces and nephews.
He attended school in Vero Beach and his love was sports. As he said it, he “played every sport in its season.”
During the summers he worked at Dodgertown. While in high school, he came down with rheumatic fever and
spent most of the school year at home. Although he didn't know it, the youth group from the Vero Beach
Church of God prayed fervently for him during that time. After recovery, his doctor told him that because of
damage to his heart, he would never be able to play sports again. The members of the booster club, including
parents and members of the community, raised the funds to send him to a specialist in Lake Wales. After having
many tests done, the specialist told him his heart was healthy, and he would be able to play football again.
He got back into shape and played football his senior year. He also came into a saving relationship with Jesus
Christ and attended the local Church of God. He decided he wanted to be a teacher, so he made plans to attend
Anderson College (now Anderson University) in Anderson, Indiana. Although he was not planning to play
football in college, his high school coach sent a message to the coach at Anderson, and told him to watch for
Joe's arrival. Once there, he met the coach, tried out as a walk-on, and became the starting fullback. Injured in
practice, he missed the first few games, but it was finally decided he would play through the pain, and he played
for four years, eventually being scouted by the Baltimore Colts. His knee never fully recovered, and he never
played professionally. He was later named a member of the 1950s Team of the Decade for Anderson College
He married Barbara, and they lived in Miami, where he taught 8th grade math at an inner-city school. When the
schools began to be integrated, his classroom was chosen for the first black student in the school, due to his
integrity and lack of prejudice. He taught there for 14 years.
In 1970, there was a teachers' strike in Wausau, Wisconsin, and Joe saw a classified ad in the Miami Herald that
said, “Wausau, Wisconsin needs teachers.” This was the beginning of a yearlong journey of faith, which
eventually brought him and his family to Wausau in August 1971.
He taught 6th grade at John Muir Middle School and volunteered in a coffeehouse ministry for several years. He
left full-time teaching when he felt called to become a pastor. He worked as a substitute teacher while pastoring
a small house church, and eventually moved into full-time pastoral work. He pastored with Central Wisconsin
Fellowship, Christian Life Fellowship, and Compassion Fellowship. On retirement, he and Barbara worshipped
with Christ Community Church.
He was well-loved and highly thought of by many in the community. He was caring, fun-loving, and a deeply
spiritual man. He will be missed by his family and friends.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, November 7 at Christ Community Church, 8100 Alderson St in
Weston. Visitation will be from 1:00 until 2:00 and the service will follow. Interment will follow the service at
Forestville Cemetery on County Highway N.