Roberta Retrospective: 
A Contribution by Rod MacDonald

August 2018 

I have had the opportunity and pleasure to work with and learn from Roberta Spencer for over 20 years now.  I consider her one of my key mentors professionally and personally.   I could go on about how much the Society has grown under Roberta’s leadership and the insane amount of time and effort she has put into running the Society, with the help of others which is probably more work than if she did it herself, but I will leave that for others.  I wish to speak about Roberta’s wicked and wonderful sense of humor.  Before I go on, I want to ensure you that I am deserving, and admire, all the practical jokes that Roberta has either pulled or attempted to pull on me.  

At the 2004 Conference at King’s College at Oxford, we all ate in a common dining hall with 2 or 3 long tables and one head table.  Approximately 400 of us were served at the same time by an excellent wait staff that appeared from no-where and a maître d’. I was with a client, running late and we were the last ones to arrive for lunch.  The maître d’ approached me and said that it was a tradition that the last one into lunch must read a prayer in Latin before that night’s dinner.  The prayer was old look piece of paper on a wooden board.  I don’t know a word of Latin and was appalled and terrorized that I was now in this position due to my tardiness.  My client said that this was something he had always wanted to do, had taken Latin, and would be honored if I would allow him to read the prayer that evening.  To my great relief I said yes, and that night he got up and did a perfect job.   

As I was preparing to move on from UAlbany in 2015, Roberta pulled me aside and reminded me of this story.  She then told me that she and David Andersen had arranged for the maître d’ to single me out read the prayer in Latin in front of everyone as a practical joke.  I think this highlights Roberta’s wonderful sense of humor, her kindness, and the ability to keep a secret.  

Roberta: I will never be able to thank you for all the personal and professional kindnesses you have shown me. 

Rod MacDonald 

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