House Resolution 34
[By Mr. Speaker, Mr. Thompson, Offered on Behalf of All Members of the House]
[Unanimously Adopted March 1, 2012]
“Paying tribute to the outstanding career and service of John A. Roberts, upon the occasion of his retirement as Doorkeeper of the West Virginia House of Delegates.”
WHEREAS, John A. Roberts began his career in the political world at the young age of twelve years, when he went to Washington, DC, to become a page in the United States House of Representatives under the guidance of his uncle, Ralph R. Roberts, who served as the elected Chief Doorkeeper of the House from 1943 until 1947. John’s per diem compensation as a page in 1946 was $5.00.
John Roberts quickly took to the political world, always in it but apart from it as a staff person. His career on Capitol Hill was really established when, in 1950, he became a Special Assistant to his uncle Ralph R. Roberts, who was elected Clerk of the United States House of Representatives in 1949 and served in that position until 1967, with a one term absence from 1947-1949. John served as Administrative Assistant to the Clerk of the House from 1955 until 1964.
The House Clerk had composed and signed a customary letter of succession, guaranteeing that his office would continue to operate should anything befall him. When a heart attack struck the Clerk, House Parliamentarian Lewis Deschler, a personal friend to John, provided the letter of succession to the Speaker of the House, and at twenty-nine years of age, John A. Roberts was named Acting Clerk of the House in his uncle’s stead. John served in that position until the end of September, 1964, when his uncle Ralph returned to his elected duties as Clerk. John returned to his duties as Administrative Assistant to the Clerk until the end of December, 1964.
On the first day of January, 1965, John Roberts became the Assistant Editor of the Daily Digest for the United States House, a position he would hold until he was named the Chief Editor on January 1, 1966. John served as Chief Editor of the Digest until the end of 1968. He served as Assistant Clerk to the District of Columbia Committee for a time in 1970, and served as Legal Publications Specialist, National Archives, before retiring from Capitol Hill in 1982.
John developed a great love of and respect for the House of Representatives and the day-to-day life there. He was on a first-name basis with Speakers of the House, and he is quick to reveal that his favorite was Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas, who served as Speaker of the House of Representatives for seventeen years, the longest tenure in U.S. history. Speaker Rayburn took a personal interest in John, and nurtured him and his career along the way.
John could not stay away from the legislative arena, and in 1982, he became an employee of the West Virginia House of Delegates, assigned to the House Documents Room. He became an Assistant Doorkeeper and was elected as Chief Doorkeeper of the House on February 7, 1996. He has been reelected to that position for eight successive terms, and his service here spans twenty-eight years.
John Roberts certainly loves the legislative arena, and the House in particular, but he also has a deep and abiding love for his wife, Marjorie, and his children R. Michael Roberts and Andrea Lee Martinec.
After a career spanning sixty-seven years of involvement in the daily operations of the United States House of Representatives, and the West Virginia House of Delegates, John A. Roberts has opted to move into retirement from public service upon sine die adjournment of this session of the Legislature. The familiar ring of his voice at the opening of the Session, with a robust “Mr. Speaker!” will not soon be forgotten; therefore,
Resolved by the House of Delegates:
That it is with heartfelt congratulations and a spirit of fraternal embrace that we hereby formally note the long and distinguished public service of John A. Roberts, Doorkeeper of the House, upon the occasion of his retirement; that this House of Delegates collectively applauds his service to the United States House of Representatives and to our own House of Delegates, and extends every good wish to him upon this occasion and for the future; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House prepare a certified copy of this Resolution for presentation to John A. Roberts, Doorkeeper, and friend.