Born: June 29th, 1949
Predeceased by his mum, Annie May Roberts, dad, Charles Roberts, and cousin, Bill Beesley.
Survived by his wife of 48 years Penny Roberts (Qualicum Beach, B.C.), son James Roberts and spouse Adrienne Lai (Victoria, B.C.), daughter Jane Krickan and spouse Jason Krickan (Parksville, B.C.), granddaughter Ameline Roberts (Parksville, B.C.), sister Anne Mooney and spouse John Mooney and their children Lisa Cowdrey and Stephen Mooney (Liverpool, England).
Keith was born at home on Calder Street in Liverpool, England, the city he called home until crossing the pond to Canada with his young family for what was intended to be a short work stint.
Keith completed his studies at Liverpool’s Breckfield Secondary Modern School in 1965, and in June of that year began his apprenticeship as a Toolmaker at The English Electric Company, Ltd.. By 1970, he had completed three Mechanical Engineering Technician certifications and grew his career through the turbulent ‘70s working at English Electric, Lilly Cups & Containers Ltd., Toolpower, and Imperial Chemical Industries.
Facing redundancy from his job in 1980 (like many across Merseyside at the time), Keith accepted a one-year work assignment as a Tool Designer with Butler Service Group, Inc. in Richmond, BC, Canada (a firm peculiarly stacked with northern English expats at the time). The convulsions of B.C.’s economy soon after arriving made pulling together work, and building a world for his young family, an unexpected focus thousands of miles from his extended family and Scouse roots. A work “holiday” turned into Canadian certification as an Engineering Technician; a short-term visa turned into Landed Residency Permits for Keith and his family and then, in 1984, Canadian Citizenship. Following Butler Service Group, Keith worked and collected friends at Kilborn Engineering Ltd., Lo-Rez Vibration Control, Comex Marine Services, Ltd., Hayes Dana, Hipp Engineering Ltd., and finally Hipp-Anvil, Inc., from which he retired in 2008 as a Senior Mechanical Designer.
Through the years, Keith carried a passion for diving and sport that was as strong as his work ethic. Throughout his school years, he pursued swimming and life-saving certifications, including one from the Liverpool Shipwreck and Humane Society, and received a scuba diving certification in 1972, diving off the coast of Scotland, and closer to home as part of a recreational divers club in the Merseyside area. Diving opportunities became less common over the years but Keith grasped them whenever possible on his travels with Penny, exploring the coastal waters of British Columbia, and the notably warmer waters of the Cook Islands.
Football dominated Keith’s interests, however, particularly when played by the boys in blue. Keith followed in his Dad’s footsteps as a life-long supporter of the Everton Football Club, to the chagrin of some among Penny’s family. As a child he heard the cheers and chants from the nearby stadium each week, and would watch the matches on television. Favourite topics of conversation were highlights of the last game, analysis of the managerial decisions, and assessments of who’s living up to their potential on the pitch; an accounting of the long-distance phone charges incurred while talking to family back home about football alone would be a cautionary tale about the price of obsession.
But more than football, the long-distance phone bills highlight Keith’s main love and interest: family. His centre of gravity was the home he cherished with his wife, Penny, and children, Jane and James, wherever that home was situated. “The thing I hate most,” Keith is memorably quoted as saying, “is coming home at night to an empty house, when the lights are off and it’s cold.” However, ‘home’ was an expansive concept and emotion. Frequent calls to England nurtured relationships against the attenuating effect of distance, and as many trips home to England were taken as could be afforded, sometimes as adjuncts to travels to Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Hawaii, and the Cook Islands. Family was the armature around which Keith moulded his life, and though nothing was withheld to build a life for his family in Canada, the gravitational pull of Liverpool never waned. Keith and Penny bought a caravan close to the city and spent as much time in England each year as they could manage, planning in time to re-settle in a brick-and-mortar Scouse abode. In recent years, though, Keith’s health challenges made regular travel difficult, and ultimately, and sadly, undermined the quest to return. However, by his unwavering love and loyalty, and through his efforts to build and maintain transatlantic ties, he ensured a lasting familial arc impressive in its reach, and enriched by the capacious scope of ‘home’ and the quirks of the places it encompasses.
A small COVID-constrained memorial service will be held at 11am on Saturday, November 7th, 2020.
Please do not send flowers. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that anyone interested in honouring Keith please make a donation in his name to the Parkinson Society of British Columbia, Parkinson Canada, Parkinson’s UK, the Michael J. Fox Foundation, or a charity of your choice.
To send flowers to Keith's family, please visit our floral store.