Dr. John T. Roberts, 85, of White Hall, Va., died on Monday, August 5, 2019, from complications of frontotemporal dementia brought on by primary progressive aphasia. He is survived by his wife, Tonya Sue Roberts; his sister, Ruth Ann Krauss of West Grove, Pa.; three sons, Brian T. Roberts and his wife, Debra, of Raleigh, N.C., Todd K. Roberts of Charlottesville, and Scott W. Roberts and his wife, Grace, of Ruther Glen, and their two children, Kayla and Zachary; two daughters, Shawn M. Roberts and her partner, George Cresswell, of Gordonsville, and Isabel H. Roberts Coleman and her husband, John Coleman, of Hockley, Texas, and their daughter, Taylor; and one stepdaughter, Tatyanna L. Patten and her husband, John Pavlansky, of Charlottesville. He was predeceased by his parents, Floyd and May Roberts; and a brother, Donald C. Roberts of New Orleans, La. John was born in Yokohama, Japan, where his parents were missionaries with the American Board of Foreign Missions. The family returned to the U.S.A. in 1940-41 because of the impending war. The family lived in Pittsfield, Mass., where the Rev. Roberts was minister of South Congregational Church. From an early age, John studied piano and musical theory while living in Pittsfield. He graduated from Mt. Hermon School for Boys (Mass.) in 1951, and went on to graduate from Oberlin College (Ohio) in 1955 with a B.A. in Art History and a minor in French. He studied voice at the conservatory, and was active in opera, operetta, and summer theatre. After graduation, he worked for one year at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. In 1956, he entered the army, where he taught artillery surveying and trigonometry, and directed two choirs. In 1958, he began studies of archaeology and Hittite cuneiform at the Oriental Institute in Chicago, and subsequently earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in historical linguistics at the University of Chicago. John was an instructor in both Hindi and Sanskrit while there. During this time, he supported himself, his wife, and (then) two children as a professional singer with numerous organizations, including the Lyric Opera. In 1966, Dr. Roberts took a position at the University of Virginia teaching Hindi, Sanskrit, and linguistics. He taught at UVA for 32 years, serving as chairman of the then-named Oriental Languages division several times. He authored a number of books concentrating on old and medieval poetry of India. He retired in 1998, as professor emeritus. John loved music, and was for 10 years music director and soloist with the Charlottesville Light Opera Co. He sang with several Episcopal choirs and other groups in the area, including the University's opera workshop. He also performed in the early Ash Lawn operas, and wrote reviews for operas and musicals for the Daily Progress. John's hobbies including woodworking, gardening, bird-watching, and astronomy, and he had a deep appreciation of nature. He enjoyed working with both his hands and his mind. The family will hold a celebration of life ceremony in October, 2019. A notice will be placed in the Daily Progress with place, date, and time later. Those wishing to honor John may donate in his name to The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (theaftd.org), Alzheimer's Association (alz.org), or Hospice of the Piedmont (hopva.org).

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