If Dave Roberts never bought you dinner, you probably didn’t eat out enough. He was renowned for his generosity, often picking up the tab for others whether he knew them well or not.
Dave died peacefully on July 23, 2023 just the way he wanted to, in his home in Truro on a beautiful sunny day. He did everything in his life that way, just the way he wanted.
Dave was born on March 17, 1942 to Jean and Mike Roberts in Meriden, Conn. He shared an attic bedroom with his three brothers, Michael, Peter, and Paul. His first job was as a paper boy for the Meriden Record. He had a route with 93 houses and started his day with two cheeseburgers.
He attended Platt High School, where he was an all-state football player. Later, he was the first inductee into the Platt High School Football Hall of Fame. He got a full scholarship to the University of Connecticut, where he played football and, more important, where he met the love of his life, Kathleen Miller. He graduated with a degree in business in 1964.
Dave enlisted in the Reserve Officer Training Corps and then the Army, where he played football for Fort Eustis, Va. and after two years of active service retired as a second lieutenant. He married Kathy on June 21, 1965, and he never looked back.
The second love of his life was Cape Cod, which he had found in 1954 when his parents bought a piece of land off Head of the Meadow Road in North Truro for $500 and built a shack. There his mother taught him to fish for stripers off the beach, dig for clams at Corn Hill, and find blueberries and mushrooms in abundance.
His professional life took him all over the country, but his home was always Cape Cod. He returned every summer and knew he would end up here.
His career began and ended in the wine and spirits industry, where he went from salesman to supplier to distributor to executive over 40 years. He was CEO of United/Martignetti when he retired in 2005.
Soon afterward, on a bike ride in North Truro, he rode past Truro Vineyards and saw that it was for sale. He went in to talk to the owners, came home, and said to Kathy, “We should buy that goddamn winery.”
And buy it they did, with their three children, David, Stephanie, and Kristen. For Dave, the winery was the proudest achievement of his career because he got to do it alongside his family.
In addition to his immense love for family and Cape Cod, Dave had an appreciation for many other things. He believed in living your best life. He liked a Cuban cigar — which he smoked unapologetically — a rare steak, a good Cosmo, and the Red Sox.
He loved driving down Route 6A to Provincetown with Bruce Springsteen, Phantom of the Opera, or Three Dog Night blasting from the stereo. For years, he would speed across the bay on his boat with kids, grandkids, and friends in tow, fishing and pulling his lobster pots. After a big haul, he’d offer lobsters to anyone who was lucky enough to be on the beach.
He was an avid traveler and took the whole family on beach vacations whenever he could. He grew up playing cribbage with his father and brothers, a tradition he passed on to his kids and grandkids. “He took great pride in talking smack and kicking our asses, right up until the end,” his family noted in a tribute to Dave.
His professional career would lead one to believe that he was right-brained, but he was as creative and visionary as he was pragmatic and detail-oriented. One day he decided to start painting, because he lived in one of the most beautiful places in the world — so why not? He painted what he saw and loved, which was Cape Cod. His paintings grace the houses of many people: he was as generous with his art as he was in the rest of his life.
And he wrote poetry. His ability to write a limerick was second to none, and he would commemorate birthdays, anniversaries, and special events with silly, sweet poems that his loved ones still cherish.
His family values all the things he taught them, such as the value of a dollar and how to hang spoons from their noses (the nicer the restaurant, the better the spoon). He taught them the importance of being generous and kind. He was a great tipper and encouraged all his children to do the same.
He taught that family is the most important thing and that it is essential to appreciate life. He encouraged them to dream big, and no matter what, just be themselves.
His final meal was a Blackfish burger with foie gras, which he washed down with champagne. The Red Sox won that night, his family was around, and all was right in his world.
Dave leaves countless friends and admirers who loved him because everyone who was lucky enough to know him loved him.
He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Kathy; his three children, David of Orleans, Stephanie of Needham, and Kristen of Truro; his brothers, Mike of Meriden, Conn. and Paul of South Pomfret, Vt.; and his grandchildren, Payton, Miles, Zach, Bella, Cole, Violet, Bode, Hazel, and Virginia.
He was predeceased by his brother Peter.
In lieu of flowers, donations go to the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, where Dave served on the board for 15 years, the Center for Coastal Studies, or the Dexter Keezer Fund of Truro.
His family expressed their love and appreciation to Hospice of Cape Cod, who helped him die as he lived, on his own terms.
A celebration of his very large life is planned for September.