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Colonel Lee Walton and Xenia Roberts Memorial Fund
By Jean Cohoon / December 31, 2013 /   Loading Disqus...
“They were astute savers,” Mary Kosowski says of the late Lee and Xenia Roberts. “Xenia told me several times that she and Lee discussed leaving money to charity, for something that would help mankind. It became clear to Xenia after she met Justin, my grandson who was an aspiring doctor, that maybe he could help her and began asking, ‘Is he a doctor yet?’”

Xenia fulfilled the couple’s intentions by establishing this fund, designated for medical research, which forever will benefit others in the Roberts’ names.

Xenia (Susla) Roberts was born in Rhode Island, one of four children of Peter and Katherine Susla. She worked in a factory in Woonsocket before moving to California as a young woman. It was there that she met her future husband, Lee, on a blind date. “He was her prince and her life was a fairy tale,” Mary shares.

Lee, the son of Major Hayden and Ruth Roberts, served in the Air Force as did his father and younger brother, Steven. Lee worked on secret military projects and was honored, posthumously, as one of 46 Pioneers of National Reconnaissance by the National Reconnaissance Office in 2000. “Never able to question what he did, when Xenia learned about the award, she was very proud,” Mary remembers.

They chose travel instead of family and her fondest memories were on an African safari, riding a camel, and visiting the Taj Mahal in India, and especially living for a time in London.

Xenia returned to Rhode Island following Lee’s death from a heart attack and soon became friends with Mary, who recalls, “She labeled us ‘soul sisters’. We hit it off as we were born just months apart and lost our husbands in the same year. Never a driver and diagnosed as legally blind, she loved accompanying me, especially to Newport, until her death in 2010.”

Mary, who served for many years on the advisory committee of the Antonio Cirino Memorial Fund at the Foundation, had suggested the Foundation to Xenia to fulfill her charitable wishes.
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