Surrounded by his family, Forrest Wayne Roberts, age 93, departed for his heavenly home on June 21, 2023.
He was raised in Daisy Vestry, Mississippi and attended Broome High School. He graduated from Perkinston Junior College and then received a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the University of Southern Mississippi. He was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa and Kappa Mu Epsilon.
After graduation, Wayne enlisted in the Army. Stationed in Germany, he worked as a cryptanalyst with the Army Security Agency. Upon returning to the states in 1954, Wayne married the love of his life, Florence Havens. The wedding was a much-anticipated event at Pine Grove Methodist Church in Benndale, Mississippi and the beginning of a marriage that would last for over 64 years.
Wayne began his employment with General Electric in Syracuse, New York. This would be the start a lifelong career in space aviation. In 1962, he became a part of the General Electric Apollo Support Group at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and then returned to the Mississippi Gulf Coast for the Saturn Program. In 1971, he transferred to Titusville, Florida to become a part of the Apollo Telescope Mount Skylab (ATM) team at Kennedy Space Center. Wayne spent the latter part of his career working with Pan Am and NASA, managing test services for the Space Shuttle Main Engine and Main Propulsion Test Systems at Stennis Space Center. He provided advance planning support to NASA in engineering design and development. Wayne received acknowledgments for his work throughout the years which included the Apolloneer Award (Saturn V), NASA Group Achievement, Customer Award for Outstanding Performance (Skylab) and the NASA Public Service Medal.
Wayne truly enjoyed his career. He had great admiration for those he encountered along his career path and garnered lifelong friendships many which began with his first job at GE. As much as Wayne treasured his career, when he retired, he and his wife took in all that retirement had to offer. They cherished the time spent with their grandchildren and enjoyed traveling with family and friends. And each week, Wayne had a standing golf game with his golfing buddies. He and his wife were devoted USM Golden Eagle fans and attended games into their late 80s. Wayne was an active layman in the United Methodist Church, serving on many committees as well as the church choir. His church family was an integral part of his everyday life and the source of many friendships.
Throughout his life, Wayne’s main devotion was to his family. In spite of his work schedule, he rarely missed an athletic game or dance recital. There were always planned vacations and weekend outings which usually included a trip to the beach, water skiing or fishing. Wayne led by example, demonstrating the faith that was instilled in him from childhood. He was a man that rarely questioned the events of life and was always thankful for what God had given him. Wayne and his wife created an inviting home filled with love, making lifelong memories cherished by not only their family but many friends along the way.
Wayne is preceded death by his parents Horrace and Jewel Roberts; his wife of 64 years, Florence Havens Roberts.; son Larry Wayne Roberts; grandson Sterling Wayne Roberts; brother Dennis Roberts and sister Melba Wofford.
He is survived by his son Bruce (Hope) Roberts of Poplarville, Mississippi; his daughter Rhonda Roberts of Long Beach, Mississippi; grandsons Colby (Caitlin) Roberts of Dallas, Texas; Garrett (Alli) Roberts and great grandchild Halle Roberts of Lakeland, Florida: step-grandson Shawn Palmer of Burney, Texas and step-granddaughter Sheigha (Bobby) Fisher of Juniper, Florida. He is also survived by his childhood “best” friend and brother-in-law, P.C. Havens of New Orleans, Louisiana; sister-in-law, Wilma Havens of Gulfport, Mississippi along with many nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank his caregivers for their support, his neighbors who always took time to talk and help where needed and his church members for calls, visits and cards.
Services will be held at 11:00 am on Friday, June 30, with visitation beginning at 10:00 am at the First United Methodist Church in Long Beach, MS. The burial will be held at 1:30 pm at the Pine Grove United Methodist Church cemetery on Hwy 57 south of Benndale, Mississippi.
In lieu of flowers and in honor of Wayne’s love for space, the family asks that donations be made to the Infinity Science Center to help inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers and mathematicians or to the music ministry of the First United Methodist Church, Long Beach, Mississippi.
The Riemann Family Funeral Home, Long Beach, is serving the family and online condolences may be offered at www.riemannfamily.com