Died peacefully at home, surrounded by the things he loved most: his family, his dog, and his books. Edward (“Scrap” to his loved ones) lived his life according to Luke 12:48, “of those to whom much is given, much will be required.”
Edward was born and raised in St. John’s. Like many Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, he left home to be educated on “the mainland,” first at St. Andrew’s College and then the University of Toronto, where he was editor of The Varsity newspaper. He returned home after completing his law degree and began a career of service to his province and its people.
He was called to the Bar of Newfoundland in 1965, became Queen’s Counsel in 1979 and a Master of the Supreme Court in 1989.
At age 26, he was elected to the provincial legislative assembly, representing the Northern Peninsula under Newfoundland & Labrador’s first premier, Joey Smallwood. He was re-elected in the next five general elections.
Edward was appointed to Cabinet as Minister of Public Welfare and Minister of Health. Among his proudest moments during that time were the introduction of the provincial medicare program, the construction of the Health Sciences Centre hospital in St. John’s, and the establishment of the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University. He also played an instrumental role in securing the authentication of the Viking site at L’Anse aux Meadows.
In 1985 he retired from politics, but in 1992 ran again and was elected in Labrador’s Naskaupi district. He held the positions of Attorney General and Minister of Justice under Premier Clyde Wells before retiring from politics permanently in 1996.
He was Chairman of the Board of Regents of Memorial University of Newfoundland from 1997- 2002, and received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the university in 2003.
He was appointed Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland & Labrador in 2002 and is credited with making Government House and its grounds more accessible to the public. He oversaw the creation of the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador, and was proud to serve as Honorary Chief of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and Honorary Colonel of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
In addition to his passion for public policy, Edward will be remembered for his kindness, dry wit, love of classic country music, and keen interest in history. In 2006, while serving as Lieutenant Governor, Edward completed a Master of Arts degree in history at Memorial University. In recent years, he edited and authored several books on Newfoundland & Labrador history.
Edward was predeceased by his parents, Dr. Harry and Katharine Roberts, and his brothers Peter and Douglas. He is survived by his wife Eve, sister-in-law Betty, daughters Catherine, Caroline, Jessica, and Alison, sons-in-law Ben and Derek, and grandchildren Madeleine, Graeme, Lauren, Claire, Noah, Chloe, Jeremy, and Henry , niece Kerby, and nephew Clair.
At his request, there will be no visitation. A private family funeral will take place at Gower Street United Church.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations in Edward’s memory to the SPCA St. John’s or the charity of one’s choice.