Family Remembers Peace Corps Volunteer - FOX 42: Omaha News, Sports and Weather; |

Family Remembers Peace Corps Volunteer

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Meghan Youker

OMAHA (KPTM) -- An Omaha family is grieving the loss of their only son.

24-year-old John Roberts died while volunteering overseas for the Peace Corps.

Roberts spent the last two years in the South Pacific in the country of Vanuatu.

His parents found out early Thursday morning that he died after a tree branch accidentally fell on him and a villager.

"We had John for 24 years and we're so thankful for that.  The world had John for 24 years and they need to be thankful for that," said John's father, Doug Roberts.

Family members say John was independent, someone who always wanted to help people.

The 24-year-old volunteered to go overseas and learn a new language.

His job was to help people on a remote island learn about agriculture.

John's family visited him in Vanuatu and say the people there loved him as though he were one of their own.

"We were walking down the street with John, people were saying 'hi John, hi John.'  And John turns to me and says and this is hilarious, 'I have no idea who they are.'  But they knew who he was," Doug Roberts said.

John graduated from Westside High School before going on to major in art history at UNL.

Then he joined the Peace Corps.

"He's a perfect example of somebody who was actively engaged in doing things that really made a difference and who wasn't in it for the credit but because it was the right thing to do," said Richard Pyle, a spokesman for the Peace Corps.

John's family says coping with his death is especially hard knowing he was set to come home in November, but it's easier knowing he touched so many lives around the world.

"They're coming back with him, which is comforting. The people are going to hurt.  I just know they hurt as much as we do," Doug Roberts said.

John's family says he was looking forward to going to graduate school after his time in the Peace Corps.

They say his dream was to work for the Smithsonian Institute.

John's funeral is Wednesday, October 17th at 10 a.m. at the Lord of Love Lutheran Church.

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