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SHS Teacher Fondly Recalls Colleague

A man who lived every day to the fullest: That is how David Scrofani will remember Steve Roberts, a physics teacher at Staples High School in Westport who died Aug. 29 at age 43.

"There was no terror in the man; just elation for adventure," said Scrofani, also a physics teacher at Staples. "Every year, we take our students to Six Flags for Physics Day, and Steve would go on as many roller coasters as he could. I think we have more pictures taken with high-speed cameras of Steve riding a roller coaster with a smile on his face than of anyone else in the department."

Roberts, a cancer survivor, died Sunday while undergoing a routine procedure at a hospital in New Haven.

Longtime friend Scrofani said Roberts was a devoted teacher, even throughout his battle with cancer.

"Despite undergoing chemotherapy regularly, he was still coming into school," Scrofani said. "And even when he was out for an extended period, he would write us letters, asking how his students were doing."

Though Scrofani said he has many fond memories of Roberts, there's one he'll never forget.

"We were at a workshop together a couple years ago at New Britain High School, and when it was over, we somehow wandered into a biology room where there were about 12 giant hissing cockroaches in a glass tank," Scrofani said. "We're looking at these things, and Steve walks over and said, 'I feel the need to pick one up and pet it.' So he scooped one up and every time he pet it, it hissed. He looked like such a kid standing there petting this thing in his hand.

"He really found joy in things other people would shrink away from; I admired so much his strength, character and his refusal to be afraid."

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