Widow of N.J. Officer Who Died of COVID Says Son Wants to Mark 12th Birthday by Getting Vaccine

Officer Charles "Rob" Roberts died of COVID-19 in May 2020, and his widow and son are urging others to get vaccinated against the virus

Charles E. Roberts III, Gavin Roberts
Photo: Glen Ridge Police Department

The son of a New Jersey police officer who died of COVID-19 complications last year will be marking his 12th birthday by getting vaccinated — and he hopes others do the same.

Alice Roberts detailed in an essay published on NJ.com how her police officer husband, Charles "Rob" Roberts, died of COVID-19 in May 2020 after many of his colleagues at the Glen Ridge Police Department contracted the disease.

"My husband Rob was a highly respected community police officer and caught COVID-19 on the job," Roberts, a mom of three, wrote in her essay. "He collapsed in our house when his heart stopped. The kids and I heard the thud."

In a previous essay for the website, Roberts said her husband eventually recovered from COVID-19 in the hospital, but his brain was too far damaged from a lack of oxygen. He was taken off life support the day after Mother's Day.

Charles E. Roberts III
Glen Ridge Police Department

With her son's 12 birthday approaching, Roberts said he asked for one thing to receive that day — a vaccine against the virus that led to the death of his father.

"All he has asked for his birthday is a COVID-19 vaccine," Roberts wrote.

Next month, Charles' name will be added to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. The wall is dedicated to law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty and was first dedicated in October 1991.

"I think attending is important to help bring closure to my children and myself, and I know my husband would be so proud that his name is on the wall," Roberts said.

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, COVID-19 is the number one killer of law enforcement officers in both 2020 and 2021 so far. The page features a list of more than 400 officers who are said to have died of the virus.

Roberts told NJ.com that she hopes by sharing her family's story, others will be inspired to get their own vaccine.

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"By sharing my family's experience, I hope my husband's death and our story can help persuade others to do the most patriotic and selfless thing I can think of doing: Get a COVID-19 vaccine!" Roberts said on the website.

"That's what my son will be doing this Sunday to celebrate his 12th birthday," she added. "It will be one he won't forget."

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