Roy A. Roberts

Roy Roberts began his lifelong newspaper career delivering The Kansas City Star as a boy in Lawrence, Kansas. When he retired from The Star in January 1965, he had served the newspaper for 56 years as a reporter, managing editor, president, editor, and general manager.

Roy Allison Roberts was born in 1887 in Muscotah, Kansas. His family soon moved to Lawrence and in 1905 he enrolled in the University of Kansas. While studying journalism there, he served as a correspondent to The Star. He left the university in 1908, one semester short of graduation, to support his widowed mother and five siblings by working for The Lawrence World.

Roberts joined The Star's sports department in 1909. Within one year he was assigned to cover the Missouri Legislature in Jefferson City. He was assigned to the newspaper's Washington bureau by William Rockhill Nelson in 1915 and stayed there for 13 years. A group of employees purchased The Star from Nelson's estate in 1926, forming The Kansas City Star company. Roberts returned to Kansas City in 1928 as a member of the board of directors and the new managing editor.

Roberts' 56 years with the newspaper took Kansas City readers through the Depression, the fall of the Pendergast machine, and many elections. He developed a national reputation for political savvy and his close acquaintances included Alf Landon, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyndon Johnson. It was said that when other reporters chased after candidates, many politicians came to see him. At the 1952 Republican convention a national news magazine assigned one reporter just to cover Roberts' activities.

Roberts never lost the common touch of a man that loved to report the news. The Star wrote that, "His career made Roberts an international figure with accomplishments that impressed others—but never Roberts himself." His proudest was the establishment of four college scholarships for children of Star employees in 1951.

Semi-retirement in 1963 placed Roberts in the position of chairman of the board and he officially retired in 1965. He died in 1967 at the age of 79 years.

Acknowledgement: 

A previous version of this article is published on kchistory.org: http://kchistory.org/content/biography-roy-roberts-1887-1967-newspaperman

KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.