Frank H. Roberts

July 6, 1919 – February 7, 2019

Frank, Dad, Grandpa, Uncle Frank, “Big Uncle Frank,” died February 7, 2019, surrounded by family at his home in Palo Alto, CA. He lived 99 full and loving years, the last 69 in Palo Alto. His two younger brothers often quipped that Grandpa had become a “California snob” late in life; but his affinity for California, its climate, progressive way of life, and oaky chardonnay was firmly grounded in his upbringing back home in Ohio.

Grandpa was born July 6, 1919, in Marion, Ohio to Chester and Mildred Roberts. In 1937, he enrolled at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. DePauw – and the DKE house – was a second home for Grandpa. He studied political science, was captain of the basketball team, and always had his dates home by 10pm (a strict school rule), at which point he and his fraternity brothers were relieved to play poker. Several months after graduation from DePauw, precipitated by the bombing of Pearl Harbor, he spent 4 years as a navigator in the U.S. Navy, until 1945, where he witnessed the Japanese surrender from Tokyo Bay. In 1943, he came ashore in San Francisco to marry his college sweetheart, Alice Anne Longley. They would be married for 61 years, until Alice Anne’s death.

Immediately following the war, with the help of the G.I. bill, Grandpa earned his J.D. from Michigan Law School. He was a lifelong, loyal Wolverine, and was thrilled to see his granddaughter, Lili, attend his law school alma mater for her MBA. He would fondly tell the story of how, nearing graduation from law school and beginning to search for associate roles at law firms in the Midwest, Alice Anne informed him that they would be moving west, to San Francisco. In 1948, he joined the San Francisco firm of Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, where he would work for 48 years, ultimately leading the firm as Managing Director.

Grandpa had a distinguished and honorable career as a lawyer. He incorporated Intel and served as General Counsel of Chevron, traveled the world, mentored associates, and hired the firm’s first female partner. During his time representing Chevron, he met David ‘Dave’ Packard, the co-founder of Hewlett-Packard Company, who served as a director on Chevron’s board. After retiring from the firm, Grandpa worked as Dave’s personal attorney. The two became dear friends.

Grandpa was generous in lending his brilliant legal mind to myriad causes in his community, including as a director on boards of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, and the Dean Witter Foundation, and as chairman of the Stanford University Hospital board. In retirement, Grandpa could be found playing dominoes at the Palo Alto Club, eating meals at The Hamilton, and hosting visiting family.

Grandpa loved law, and chocolate, and California, and wine. But most of all he loved his family. He is survived by daughters Patricia, Judy, and Margaret, and grandchildren Lili and Jono.

A service will be held Saturday, February 23, 2019, at 1:00 pm at The Women’s Club of Palo Alto. 475 Homer Avenue, Palo Alto, CA. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be sent to DePauw University or Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute.

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