By Lauren Roberts
Lake City native Helen Roberts, the daughter of Norman and Corine Witt, remembers riding over to visit her aunt’s farmhouse in Trenton as a young little girl. This fun-loving city girl absolutely hated the trip as the countryside was empty in her opinion, and she would’ve much rather spent her day at the skating rink with her sisters than visiting the farm. Yet she would later find her love for William Roberts bringing her back to the area to build a home and family years later.
The two met while both attending school at Lake City Community College and started dating shortly afterwards for two years. Helen graduated high school from Columbia and William from Trenton. While in high school, he enjoyed being in the FFA where he showed steers in the fair and participated in public speaking events under his advisor Herbert Brown.
During their courtship, Helen worked as a secretary in the Animal Science Department at the University of Florida and William served six months in the Army Reserve. After graduating with his AA degree, he went back to work on his parents’, Carl and Amma Roberts, 160 acre farm which has remained in the family since his grandfather, Frank Roberts, received it in 1862 under Theodore Roosevelt’s Homestead Act.
One operation of the farm was a feed grinding business known as “GC Roberts & Son Feed Grinding” in which a large grinder mounted to the back of a truck would produce cattle and swine feed from corn for other farmers in the area that was stored in burlap bags. William and his father Carl started this as a way to produce their own feed for their cattle. The business existed during the 1960’s and was busiest during the winter months. Aside from cattle, the farm grew many crops including corn, soybeans, watermelon, and tobacco. When William was not planting or checking on cattle, he enjoyed exploring the beautiful springs in the area where he frequently cave dived at Hart and Otter springs or was out scalloping in the Gulf.
On April 9,1966, William and Helen got married and later went on to have two sons, Wesley and Jason. While raising their family, Helen stayed at home to see her sons through school and William bought his father’s farm and continued to grow crops and raise beef cattle. Like every good cattle rancher, William had plenty of dogs to help round up cows but everyone around town knew his black-mouth cur dog “Melvin” particularly for his reputation of scaring away the UPS man and making house visitors jump on top of their vehicles! Helen remembers him as her favorite dog because he didn’t let anyone in their yard that would harm them and kept the pesky vacuum salesmen from knocking on her front door!
After Helen saw both her sons through high school, she decided to work as a volunteer coordinator at Ayers Nursing Home for nine years until she retired. Now she enjoys maintaining her beautiful yard, baking her famous sour cream pound cakes, hello dollies, and pecan pies for her loved ones, and spending time with her grandchildren, Lauren, Austin, and Macy. William also continues to own some beef cattle but is retired from farming and has turned most of his farmland over into timber production. He still enjoys working cows with his grandchildren and taking his dogs for a ride to feed the cows and check on the fences.
When asked what the secret is to making their 52 year marriage last, Helen shared, “it’s being considerate of one another’s feelings and making sure your marriage is centered around God.” William went on to say that it is “just learning how to put up with each other’s differences and having a good attitude even when that means mowing the lawn when she tells me to!”
Helen might not have imaged that she would grow up to live in the Trenton countryside as a little girl, but she and William have created a wholesome life together filled with their love for each other, family, friends, and their small town they are blessed to call home.
At Home with William and Helen Roberts
By Lauren Roberts