Phillip Eugene Roberts, 80, returned to be with his eternal companion, Muriel, on June 8, 2013. Services will be held in the Elma, Wash. chapel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 15, 2013. Graveside services will follow with full military honors at 3:00 p.m. at Finley Sunset Hills Memorial Park in Portland, Oregon.
Gene was born in Granby, Missouri, on January 29, 1933. He was raised in Granby and the neighboring town of Neosho. He was an Eagle Scout and the drum major of his high school marching band. He later attended school in Springfield, Missouri where he met Muriel Kitching, who later became his wife of 54 years. He married his girl on May 9, 1955, at Ellington Air Force Base. Gene received his commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force on their wedding day.
Early in Gene’s Air Force career, he was a navigator and taught former World War II pilots celestial navigation techniques. He then became a pilot of fixed-wing aircrafts before finally becoming a helicopter pilot. In 1963, he flew fixed-wing missions in and out of Vietnam from Bangkok, Thailand. He then served in-country as a helicopter pilot supporting transportation and rescue missions; his deployment in Vietnam lasted from 1965 to 1966. He retired as a Major in 1972 before settling down in Lafayette, La. in 1974. Gene and Muriel continued raising their five children in Lafayette.
In Louisiana, Gene began a civilian career flying helicopters for Petroleum Helicopters Incorporated from which he retired in 1999. Gene and Muriel loved to travel. They lived in many places around the world including Bangkok, Thailand, Woodbridge, England, and China. In 2002, they served a mission together as representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City at the church’s family history center. In 2003, Gene brought Muriel back to her home state of Washington. They bought a home in the town of Elma and continued to travel often.
Gene loved the military. Although he was proud of his service, he was very humble and did not talk much about his experiences and accomplishments. More so than the military, he loved his family and set a great example for his posterity. He was known to be self-sufficient, independent and a hard worker.
Gene is the son of Thomas a Roberts and Sylvia C. Roberts, who preceded him in death. He is also preceded in death by his eternal companion, Muriel Kitching Roberts; his sister, Janice Henry; and grandson, Justin McCartney.
Gene is survived by his sister, Sandie Price; as well as two brothers, Tom and Frank. He is also survived by his five children, Frances Meg Roberts McCartney and her husband Danny of Prairieville, La., Dinah “Jo” Roberts of Sandy, Utah, John Thomas Roberts and his wife Heather of Portland, Ore., William Kitching Roberts and his wife Anna of Hagerstown, Md., Elizabeth Roberts Mitchell and her husband Brent of Frederick, Md.; 19 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.
Please visit and sign the online tribute to Phillip at www.whitesidefamilymortuaries.com
Arrangements are entrusted to Whiteside Family Mortuary in Elma.