Roberts Jr., 80, securities salesman

F. G.

July 08, 2005|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Frank G. Roberts Jr., a retired Legg Mason securities salesman and World War II navigator and prisoner of war, died of stroke complications Tuesday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. A longtime Woodbrook resident who recently lived in Annapolis, he was 80.

Born in Baltimore, he grew up in Mount Washington, where he constructed a multistory tree fort behind his Roxbury Place home. He also built and operated a miniature-golf course adjacent to the Meadowbrook swimming pool. A Jones Falls washout swept the course away after he ran it for several seasons.

Mr. Roberts was a 1942 Friends School graduate. He then attempted to enlist in the Army Air Forces but was rejected on the basis of an eyesight test.

"He got busy and ate carrots, thinking it would improve his vision," said his sister, Patricia Stephens of Ruxton. "He tried a second time and made it in."

Mr. Roberts served as a navigator on a B-17 bomber during World War II. During a raid over Hamburg, Germany, his plane was shot down, but all the crew landed safely. He later recalled being jeered by villagers and then being taken captive. While in a stalag, a term used for prisoner-of-war camps, he lost more than 80 pounds, family members said.

While imprisoned, he was shot in the shoulder by a guard and placed in solitary confinement. He was later awarded the Purple Heart.

"His perpetual positive attitude pulled him through until his release at the end of the war," said his son, Jeff Roberts of Baltimore.

After returning home he earned a bachelor's degree at the Johns Hopkins University and worked in sales for McCormick & Co. at its Light Street headquarters. He then went into his father's business, Triangle Sporting Goods, which had stores on North Charles Street and in Towson. Mr. Roberts sold the business in the mid-1960s. He then changed careers, returned to school to study psychology and became a securities salesman for what is now Legg Mason. For many years he was among the firm's top salesmen.

"Frank developed fantastic relationships with his clients," said H. Anderson "Andy" deMuth, a Legg Mason vice president. "Their affection for him was overwhelming."

"He loved coming to work and watching the markets and trying to find ideas to make his clients money."

In 1980 he was named the firm's senior vice president for investments and retired only several years ago.

"He had an incredible work ethic. If he wasn't at his desk downtown, he would be at his desk at home," said his daughter, Catherine Roberts Tipper of Sparks. "He was always optimistic and upbeat."

Mr. Roberts was an avid sports enthusiast and played tennis and golf well into his 70s. He also skied.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.

In addition to his sister, son and daughter, survivors include his wife of 10 years, Constance MacDougall of Annapolis; another daughter, Charlotte Woodruff Roberts of Oxford; and five grandchildren. His first wife of nearly 40 years, Charlotte Woodruff Skinner, died in 1993. A son, Frank G. Roberts III, died before reaching his first birthday.

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