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Lt. Colonel Leander Joseph Roberts, Jr. (USAF-Ret) of Sacramento, CA lost his brief battle with
lung cancer on April 2, 2022 surrounded by his loving wife and daughter at home. Leander was
born at McKinley Hospital in Trenton, NJ on July 30, 1934 to Leander J. Roberts, Sr., a WWI
veteran and teacher, and Helen Roberts (Meade), a seamstress. Buster, as his family called him,
was raised on the campus of the Bordentown Manual Training School where his father taught
printing, along with his two sisters Helen âBettyeâ Roberts-Campbell and Ann Roberts-Howard.
The training school has historical significance as it was affectionately known as the âTuskegee of
the Northâ, providing vocational education to African-American students. Buster attended
Bordentown City Public Schools for primary and secondary education while performing
marvelous athletic feats as a dedicated gymnast.
Leander relocated to Alabama in 1952 to begin his first year at Tuskegee University, which was
also the alma mater of his father. With a personality that was larger than his physical stature,
Leander quickly made many friends and was well liked on campus. He crossed the burning sands
of the Lambda Epsilon chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. in 1953 at the end of his
freshman year. While in college, Leander enlisted in the United States Air Force and upon
graduating from Tuskegee with a B.S. in Printing, he was commissioned as an officer. By bravely
taking on his new role as navigator of C-130 cargo aircraft, he had the opportunity to travel the
world and eventually served in the Vietnam War. He rose through the officer ranks and became
one of a small number of African-American squadron leaders during his time.
He eventually made his way to California and was stationed at the former McClellan Air Force
Base. Through a blind date arranged by his future sister-in-law and a mutual friend, he met the
former Shirley Ann Bracy and fell in love with her bright personality and beautiful smile. Knowing
that he would always have someone to cook for and share his love of vino with, the perennial
bachelor finally decided to settle down and they wed in July of 1983. Buster would commonly
describe himself as a late bloomer when speaking of marriage and the natural progression of
adulthood. To his surprise and delight, the journey of parenthood was embarked upon as
Leander and Shirley welcomed a daughter, LeAnne, in the spring of 1985. Buster was instantly
smitten with his only child, the apple of his eye, and his âmasterpieceâ; he remained so until his
After nearly 30 years of service, Leander retired from the Air Force and transitioned to substitute
teaching with the Twin Rivers School District (formerly known as Grant Joint Union High School
District). He loved teaching science and mathematics to his students and his infectious laugh
always seemed to melt even the most challenged hearts. Throughout his time in Sacramento, he
remained active in the Omega Psi Phi fraternity through the Epsilon Xi chapter. He was also an
active parishioner and lay minister at the St. Andrews Episcopal Church in North Highlands. He
continued to entertain his friends and family well into his retirement years with gourmet meals
and comedic tales of his past.
Leander was preceded in death by his parents and his sister, Ann. He is survived by his wife
Shirley Roberts, daughter Dr. LeAnne (Lauren) Roberts-Snyder, his sister Bettye (Charles)
Campbell, nieces Elizabeth âBetty Annâ Campbell, Deborah âDebbieâ Campbell, and Linda
Campbell, nephew Dr. Whitfield âWhitâ(Rabinder) Campbell, sister-in-law Beverly Bracy, brotherin-
law Bertram âBertâ (Theresa) Bracy, as well as many other well-loved grandnieces,
grandnephews, in-laws, and lifelong friends.
A memorial service will be held at St. Augustine Episcopal Church, 1800 Wildcat Blvd in Rocklin,
CA on Saturday, June 4, 2022 at 11:00am.
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