Tribute to Dr. Patrick Roberts
Thank you for allowing me to pay tribute to a scholar, a gentleman, and a patriot.
Lineage and community
Dr. Patrick David Roberts came from Pigtail Alley on “the Hilltop” near Government House. The Hilltop community was a special place.
Many would argue that 70 years ago, when Dr. Roberts was a young boy, the black intelligentsia of the entire colony was rooted in that community.
One of its leading lights was the outstanding educator and son of Abaco, Enoch Pedro (E.P.) Roberts Sr.
Patrick Roberts was the youngest child of E.P. Roberts and Gladys Raine Roberts, formerly Gladys Archer, who also came from Abaco.
Young Patrick passed through Quarry Mission School and the Government High School in Nassau and McGill University in Canada. Then, he went on to earn an array of graduate and professional degrees, four of them at the doctoral level, in fields ranging from medicine to education to theology to divinity. He embodied the Hilltop’s culture of intellectual passion and academic excellence.
Dr. Roberts also embodied the kind of professional mastery that was so widespread on the Hilltop. He practiced his call to medicine with distinction.
That much was recognized here at home. He was president of the Bahamas Academy of Medical Sciences.
His roster of patients was a “who’s who” of Bahamians and foreign residents from all walks of life.
His expertise was recognized internationally. He was a fellow of professional societies in Great Britain and the United States.
His gifts in clinical practice ran beyond a comprehensive knowledge of relevant science. He knew how to reassure anxious parents about the development of their young babies.
Then, there was the level of his ambition and the range of his vision for improving the health of our people.
Working along with a team of dedicated colleagues, he pioneered the modern practice of pediatrics in The Bahamas.
Among other accomplishments, he founded the Bahamas Association for Sickle Cell Anaemia. His stature as a professional was second to none.
From the Hilltop, came many of the leaders of our churches, our schools, our professions, and our creative life.
No wonder, then, that Patrick Roberts was also a gentleman of the arts and letters.
He delighted in music and was an active patron of musical performance.
He understood the power of historical narrative and chaired the advisory committee of the Institute for Oral and Public History at University of The Bahamas.
He was excited to witness the establishment of our university. He celebrated its promise for facilitating the aspirations of our people.
He wanted the whole community to share in the kinds of opportunities for intellectual growth and exchange that he had enjoyed, and in our university, he saw the catalyst for bringing that dream about.
What truly elevated Dr. Roberts, beyond his accomplishments as a scholar, a professional, and a man of cultivated mind, was that he did a world of good.
Into his philanthropies, he poured his time, his knowledge, and his resources on a scale that was prodigious and sustained.
As examples, he was volunteer physician to the Children’s Emergency Hostel; he was volunteer physician to the Child Day Care Centre of the Bahamas Council of Women; he was volunteer physician and instructor to the Bahamas Red Cross Society; and he was president of the Bahamas Aid for Needy Children committee (BANC).
His pride and joy, in the words of one of his close colleagues, was forming and supporting, as its patron and pediatric consultant, the Bahamas Infant Stimulation Programme, for young children who faced significant developmental challenges.
Then, he multiplied many times over the wholesome impact that he exercised by mentoring hundreds of professionals in a wide range of medical specialties and non-medical disciplines.
His stood faithful to the Hilltop ethos of building his community.
It was my great good fortune to have worked with Dr. Roberts for seven years and to have benefitted again and again from his graciousness and kindness.
Through his passing, our community has lost a colossus, and many of us have lost a friend.
From his eminent colleague and dear friend of more than 30 years’ standing in the United States, Dr. Bruce Rubin, comes this salute: “Patrick was a dedicated and brilliant physician, a loyal friend, and one of the most kind and gentle men I have had the pleasure of knowing.”
All of us extend deepest sympathies to his wife and family. We shall miss him deeply. May his soul rest in perfect peace.
— Tracey Thompson, PhD
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