By Eddie Foster Roberts
Eddie Foster Roberts was born in Bay City, on April 17, 1922, to Ikeleys Roberts and Linnie McHenry Roberts. Ikeleys Roberts was born in Matagorda County, reared in Wharton County, and returned to Matagorda County in 1913 with his mother Christina Roberts. In 1917 he married Linnie McHenry. In 1942, Ikeleys Roberts became the manager of Duncan-Roberts Funeral Home and was one of the first licensed funeral directors in Matagorda County. He operated the funeral home for twenty-six years until he retired in 1968. He died in 1977 and was buried in Eastview Cemetery.
Linnie McHenry was born and grew up in Matagorda County, and completed her public school education there. She was the daughter of Hale Foster McHenry and Dinah Wiley McHenry. Dinah was a native of Matagorda County, and Hale Foster came to Matagorda County from Colorado County. Dinah died in 1935, Hale Foster died in 1942, and both were buried in Eastview Cemetery. Linnie attended Samuel Houston College, Austin; Prairie View A&M University; and completed her college work at Mary Allen College, Crockett, Texas. She taught in the public schools of Matagorda County for thirty-two years, and was affectionately known as "Mrs. Linnie" by her students. She retired in 1955 and died in 1956. Her burial was in Eastview Cemetery. The Linnie Roberts Elementary School was dedicated in 1961, and named in her honor.
Three children were born to Ikeleys and Linnie Roberts: Christine Roberts Covington, Theresa Roberts Lewis, and Eddie Foster Roberts. Christine and Theresa were graduated from Prairie View A&M and Theresa completed her post-graduate requirements at Texas Southern University. She was employed by the Galveston School System for thirty-eight years, and Christine served in the Houston Public System until her retirement. Eddie Foster Roberts was graduated with highest honors from Hilliard High School, and was later graduated from Landing Mortuary School of Science in Houston. He attended Howard University, Washington, D. C., and completed his degree requirements at Prairie View A&M.
Eddie Roberts served in the European theatre for twenty-five months during World War II, and received four Overseas bars, Expert Rifleman Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Victory Medal, and EAME Campaign Ribbon. He held offices in and supported many community projects, including the Gulf Coast Masons, Bay City Housing Authority, Prometheans of America, Prairie View Alumni Association, Boy Scouts of America, Bay City Industrial Foundation, American Legion Post 850, and the Sheriff's Association of Texas, Chamber of Commerce, Eastview Cemetery Association, and the American Red Cross. He also served as President of Duncan-Roberts Burial Association.
On August 5, 1951, Eddie married Faye. She was a teacher at Holmes Elementary School in 1984, and had been employed by the Bay City Independent School District for twenty-six years. Eddie and Fay had two children, Cheryl and Eddie Foster, Jr.
The Roberts family were members of Enterprise Baptist Church where they worked with the Sunday school program, served on the Education Board, and Eddie was Chairman of the Trustee Board.
Eddie was owner and manager of the Duncan-Roberts Funeral home which was established in 1920.
Historic Matagorda County, Volume II,
Linnie McHenry Roberts spent her early childhood in the small community known as Caney, where she was born. After she completed grade school at Caney, she attended Sam Houston College in Austin. She later attended Prairie View and Mary Allen Colleges.
"Miss Linnie" joined Mt. Pilgrim Baptist Church on Caney in her youth. When she established her residence in Bay City, she affiliated with Enterprise Baptist Church. She was a loyal worker in the church and was connected with several fraternal organizations.
Linnie Roberts began her teaching career in Matagorda County, and for 32 years she taught in the communities of this county. Thirty-one of her 32 years were spent in Bay City ISD. Most of the 31 years were at Hilliard School, the predecessor of Linnie Roberts Elementary School. Her years of teaching were in the elementary grades. She was a third grade teacher when she retired from the profession in 1954.
It is fortunate for Matagorda County that such a person lived and worked in this community. She was loved by the children who passed through her classes. She was lovingly called "Miss Linnie" by many who knew her. Late in 1961 a new school was rightfully named the "Linnie Roberts Elementary School.
Historic Matagorda County, Volume I, page
Ikeleys Roberts, the first black mortician in Matagorda County and one of the first along the coastal bend area, died Tuesday at Matagorda General Hospital at the age of 90.
He was co-owner of the Duncan-Roberts Funeral Home and until his health failed was active in both civic and community affairs.
Roberts was a charter member of the Hilliard Parent Teachers Association and as business manager, paid a teacher's salary in order that Hilliard could be an accredited high school in Bay City.
The act also provided schooling for black students who up until about 1938 had to leave the county to attend high school since there was not one available in Matagorda County.
Roberts traveled throughout Brazoria, Matagorda and Wharton counties as the only black mortician in the area. A custom in the early 1930's dictated that the embalming be done in the home and Roberts was well-known because he would go throughout the county and into the home when someone died, performing his services as mortician.
He was active as a mortician until 1967, when he suffered an impairing stroke. Even after 1967, however, Roberts would attend some funeral services, remaining in the car during the service but fulfilling the state requirement that a licensed mortician be present at the funeral.
Roberts' son, Eddie, became the second back licensed mortician in the county in 1942 and joined the business in 1948.
Known as "Mr. Ike" to children and grown-ups alike, Roberts was born in Van Vleck, on January 1, 1887 and grew to manhood in Boling.
He moved to Bay City in 1913 and married Linnie McHenry, who preceded him in death in 1956.
Roberts was a member of Enterprise Baptist Church where he served on the trustee board until his health failed. He was past Worshipful Master of the Free and Accepted Masons, past Worth Shepherd of the Progressive Order of Pilgrims and past Camp Commander of The American Woodmen.
He is survived by three children, Mrs. Christine Covington of Houston, Mrs. Theresa M. Lewis of Galveston and Eddie F. Roberts of Bay City; five grandchildren, seven great grandchildren; many relatives and friends.
Daily Tribune, August 17, 1977
Copyright 2013 -
Present by Roberts Family
Mar. 22, 2013
Mar. 22, 2013