Late pastor’s family takes tour of many churches served
The life of a good pastor leaves a lasting impact. That fact was borne out earlier this year by the adult children of Rev. Howard Roberts, who served many United Methodist churches during his tenure in the 1950s to 1970s.
Rev. Roberts and his wife, Louise, had five children. Kaye passed in 2015. The other four, Kyle Roberts Dahlem of Spring, TX; Darryl Roberts of Tulsa; Laura Roberts Harmon of Ardmore; and Sam Roberts of Ocean View, DE, made a grand tour of the churches the Roberts served on the west side of the state.
Robers’ first official appointment – after serving two churches, Lookeba and Collinsville Meadowbrook – was to open Lawton Wesley in 1948. During the couple’s tenure, until Roberts’ retirement in 1978, they served 20 churches across the state, including Harrah, Skiatook, Apache, Elk City, and Newcastle.
Of all the homes where the Roberts resided, all five children were only together in two of those cities, Buffalo and Wakita.
For her travels across the state with five kids in tow, Louise Roberts was named the Oklahoma Mother of the Year in 1987. An article in the Okmulgee Daily Times on March 7, 1987, described the reasons for Roberts as the winner of that honor, “Mrs. Roberts’ selection was based on her ability to guide each of her children to reach their full potential as evidenced by each child’s participation in the religious, education, civic, and business worlds, as well as her personal characteristics and her influence on her community, state, and nation.”
The family visited churches – and one empty lot, Second Street – in Lookeba, Lawton, Apache, Cheyenne, Mountain View, Buffalo, Wakita, Carnegie, Olustee, Fort Cobb, and Crescent. They made stops at the Gloss Mountains, Harvey House in Waynoka, the Washita Massacre site, and Mountain Park. They experienced the vastness of Oklahoma when they chugged into a gas station with a completely empty tank.
While the family was taking photos in Fort Cobb, a man pulled up, got out of his car, and said, “Are you Sam Roberts?” addressing the youngest of the Roberts children. “We would have won the state championship in basketball in ‘73 and ‘74 if the Methodists hadn’t moved you!”
The group ended their tour in Minco, the site where daughter Kaye is buried. They plan to take a second tour of the eastern half of the state sometime soon.
Stephanie Dahlem Pounds, daughter of Kyle and granddaughter to the Roberts, joined the group on the trip, keeping siblings and cousins updated through group texts. “It was bittersweet,” she recalled. “It was great to finally see all these places that I’ve always heard of. Our family is full of storytellers, and the stories jumped to life as we made our way from town to town.”
Pounds added, “A trip like this makes you truly appreciate the power of the Methodist connection – all these little churches that held communities together, the preachers’ families that led them as they moved from place to place, the way the conference kept communities across the state together with a common bond.”
“I’m not sure that disaffiliated churches will realize what they’ve broken until we’re farther down the road, and it will be hard to ever put that back together again,” said Pounds.
She concluded, “But my grandfather was a big believer in revival. He held one every time he moved to a new town. The time seems ripe for another. I’m ready!”