When I entered our profession in 1960 and was living in New York City, I knew of Mr. Roberts by reputation, even “across the river” (The Hudson), because he was known as the consummate educator of reporters and an owner in one of the more prestigious court reporting firms on the East Coast: Roberts Walsh Reporting.
In 1962, when I began reporting in New Jersey, I attended all of the New Jersey Certified Shorthand Reporters Association meetings in Brothers Restaurant in Newark. At age 20, I was intimidated by attending meetings of any nature, especially those held in a sophisticated business restaurant in New Jersey’s largest city. I paid close attention to subjects anathema to me: electronic recording (ER), reporter education, court administration, etc. When Mr. Roberts spoke, the room stood still for two unique reasons. Alan didn’t waste words. He spoke outside the box and always approached a professional dilemma with common sense. Secondly, the tone and slant in his voice and pronunciation of verbiage left one with the feeling that Alan Roberts was a professor of our famed Princeton University.
As we said in Brooklyn, Alan Roberts was a “mensch.” He was an act of class, never portraying that he was better or smarter than any other. He paid as much attention to the neophyte reporter as one would to an agency owner. I recall one meeting in particular when I raised my hand and asked an obviously naive question. While some members snickered, after the meeting ended, Alan took me aside and explained what it was all about. Now I’m the older member, and I never forgot what it means to be humble, the lesson taught so well by Alan Roberts. Of sound mind and conscience, Alan passed on at age 98.
Alan and his partner, John Walsh, built and operated a large reporting school that turned out some of the finest reporters in our state. As the field turned toward computerization (CAT), Alan’s school was quick to transition its theory into as close as possible to what was called “conflict free.”
Anyone who touched the persona or soul of Alan Roberts knew that he or she was closer to intelligence than ever before. I refer particularly to his son, Jim Roberts, CLVS, known by all who know him personally and professionally as the finest legal videographer in our industry.
My dear friend, Alan Roberts, may you rest in peace. “Yisgadal v’yiskadash.”
Heywood (Woody) Waga, FAPR, RMR, CRR (Ret.)
Past President, National Court Reporters Association