Dr. Morris Waddell Roberts, 88, of Acworth, Ga., passed away Saturday, April 22, 2023, at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville, Tenn. Dr. Roberts was born to parents James Preston Waddell Roberts and Giula Shannon on June 14, 1934, in Meridian, Miss. and grew up in Tennessee, Texas, and New Mexico. His father was a Methodist preacher who moved his family to Tracy City, Tenn. to serve twice as minister at the Methodist Church in Tracy City and attend seminary school at University of the South. He received his Divinity degree from studies there. His father was also an Air Force chaplain and lost his life in the Korean War.
Dr. Roberts met his wife Emma Ruth Kilgore in Tracy City in the second grade. They were married for 66 years. He received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry from Tennessee Polytechnic Institute in Cookeville, TN, pursued advanced studies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, MA, and completed his Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA. He conducted research in nuclear chemistry in Idaho Falls, ID. Dr. Roberts was a pioneer in computer science, being hired as a full professor at Georgia State University in Atlanta and helping establish the Computer Science Department. He later founded the Information Systems Department at Kennesaw State University and served as Department Chair. In addition, he co-authored a textbook, Programming Principles Using Pascal. While growing up, Dr. Roberts enjoyed hiking in the Fiery Gizzard Gulf in Tracy City. He learned to fly private aircraft at a young age, helped build a landing field on the mountaintop nearby, and got his private pilot's license. He loved music, especially classical music, musicals, and the whimsical tunes of Leroy Anderson. He was an accomplished photographer. He passed on his love of the outdoors to his children and shared his passion for computer programming. He taught Diana to name and identify trees and do macro photography. He wrote a program for Karen to practice the multiplication tables. Karen's later interest in music was shaped by his love for Beethoven, Dvorak, and Wagner, ad she was inspired by his stories of hiking in the Fiery Gizzard to become a lifelong hiker and backpacker. It was important for Dr. Roberts and his wife Ruth to keep family relationships strong as they journeyed through life together. He was a strong proponent of women's rights, which is evident in his strong and independent daughters and wife. He never lost his sense of adventure. In his mid-eighties, he and his wife drove cross-country from Tennessee to the Pacific Coast, enjoying many national parks along the way. In addition, he fostered and maintained good relationships with colleagues and friends throughout his life.
Dr. Roberts is survived by his wife Ruth K. Roberts, daughters Diana Carol Roberts and Karen Dawn Roberts, and grandchildren Lydia Page Myers and Kenneth (Kent) Waddell Myers. Dr. Roberts is also survived by his brother David Andrew Roberts (Jeanette Medlock), Sherry Roberts Rygmyr and her children and grandchildren, and many close relatives in Mississippi.
Donations are requested to be sent to the Friends of South Cumberland State Park in Sewanee, Tenn. or to the United Methodist Church in Tracy City, TN.
A memorial service will be held at a later date in Tracy City, Tenn.
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