In Memoriam Gary Anthony Roberts

April 14, 1956 – May 28, 2020

Gary Roberts
Gary Roberts

Gary Roberts, 64, loving husband and father, peacefully passed away in St. Vincent’s Hospital after a brief illness May 28. His beloved wife of 34 years, Terry Russell Roberts and their daughter, Casey, 28, are comforted by the certainty that he is reunited in heaven with their deceased son and brother, Clay, who was killed in a tragic accident in 2007.

Roberts, a Jacksonville native, was the second of three children born to the late Tillman Roberts and Mildred Rogero. He grew up on the Westside and attended J.E.B. Stuart Junior High School where he played trombone and expanded his love of music. He was a 1974 Edward H. White High School graduate, who barely knew his future wife, Terry Russell, in high school for she graduated three years later. The couple finally met at Hyde Park Pharmacy where Roberts worked as a teen, and whose owner, pharmacist Dick Saunders encouraged their romance. They married on June 22, 1985.

Roberts graduated from Mercer University of Atlanta in 1981, with an advanced degree in Pharmacy (PharmD) and completed his IV Nutrition (TPN) residency there. He was one of the few pharmacists in the nation at that time to specialize in this therapy. In Jacksonville, he worked as the Riverside Hospital Clinical Pharmacist where he developed the protocols to safely maintain a TPN patient outside of the hospital setting, another first.  After leaving Riverside Hospital, he became a partner pharmacist at Hyde Park Pharmacy. This move spawned the development of his IV therapy business, which was later purchased by a major prescription benefit management company.

In 2009, he opened Roberts Southbank Pharmacy in San Marco. This became the Roberts’ second successful local business; Terry’s Kitchen, fresh and frozen meals-to-go, had opened on St. Johns Avenue in 2001.

Perhaps Roberts’ most meaningful accomplishment was the creation of the nonprofit charitable organization, In River or Ocean (IROO), which was founded in 2007 in memory of his late son Clay. Clay had been a senior at Bishop Kenny High School at the time of his death. Since childhood, Clay had a strong passion for fishing and boating, which inspired the charity’s mission to promote enjoyment of waterways.  Their goal is the protection, conservation and effective stewardship of river and ocean resources for present and future generations.  The annual Clay Roberts Memorial Inshore Slam Fishing Tournament funds a four-year renewable college scholarship for a Bishop Kenny senior with the same character and personal qualities as Clay. 

Roberts played trombone for more than 15 years in the Westside Baptist Church Orchestra and Jazz Band, where he made many friends, including Pastor Keith Russell. Of his many CDs and vinyl records, a favorite song was “I Can Only Imagine,” by the contemporary Christian music group, MercyMe. The song’s lyrics describe the joy of entering heaven and the presence of Jesus Christ.

He and Terry supported the El Cheapo Sheepshead Tournament Junior Angler Division, among other local fishing tournaments and are members of the Coastal Conservation Association and St. Johns Riverkeeper.  Roberts was a Rotary and Sertoma Club member and served on the Jacksonville University Board of Directors/Marine Science.

His daughter Casey worked with him at their pharmacy. She completed her Childhood and Adolescent Psychology Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of North Florida, with plans to pursue that career. Casey and her father shared a love of all music, played basketball, enjoyed games, and watched football together.

Besides Terry and Casey, Roberts is survived by his in-laws, Terry’s stepfather Thomas Russell, her mother Perry Jones Russell of Jacksonville and stepmother Louise Cashion Pinckney of South Carolina, as well as his surviving cousins, Joe and Nona Regero, Cheryl Roberts, Rocky Roberts, and Kenny Groleau, and surviving niece, Sharon Casper. Terry’s late father was Bill Cashion.  Roberts is also mourned by the family’s much-loved pets, German Shepherd Auggie and Casey’s Havanese, Lacey.

William “Bill” Parker, longtime family and close friend of Gary, spoke collectively for Roberts’ loved ones.

“Gary was the most positive person and always such a true friend to everyone who knew him. He was so much like their son, Clay. Both were always more interested in the wellbeing of others before themselves,” Parker said. 

It is well known among family and friends that Gary and his son, Clay, shared an abiding respect and love of God’s creations. A partial quote written by Roberts for Clay’s gravestone many years ago, may best express the impact of these lives, both lost too soon: “In your short life on earth, you touched so many, leaving countless memories and the hope that we will be with you for eternity.”

A memorial service in celebration of Gary’s life and reunion with Clay in heaven will be announced at a future date. In lieu of gifts or flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to In River or Ocean, 1625 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville, FL 32207 or online at

Due to the Covid-19 emergency, the 13th annual Clay Roberts Memorial Inshore Slam Fishing 2020 tournament has been cancelled, but a June 20-21 weekend “Fish with Clay” virtual event has been substituted. Information is available on the website.

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