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Community mourns Joe Robertson: ‘Always a Laker’

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The lights were on at Russell County High School’s baseball field last night, but no game was played. Dozens of mourners turned out to pay their respects to Joe Robertson, the 22-year-old former Laker who tragically passed away Monday.

A 2018 RCHS grad, Robertson played for four district title teams and one region runner-up during his high school career. 

A memorial was set up at home plate with Robertson’s old jersey, his senior season’s district and region trophies, and a Laker cap, inscribed with the words “Always a Laker.”

Russell County Asst. Coach Rob Clark was the first to speak, sharing his memories about Robertson—particularly how tight he was with his teammates.

“The friendships he had, all those—they were so close,” Clark said. “It’s something really special.”

Clark went on to share how he has appreciated the videos and tributes friends of Robertson have shared on social media, which showed a side of the young man the coach rarely saw. 

“I saw a different type of Joe,” Clark said. “I saw some videos people posted, and I saw him dancing and cutting up with his friends and being at the lake. That’s just a side I didn’t get to see too often, because in baseball, us coaches are kind of serious all the time. He was loved by so many people—his friends, his family, and we’re going to miss him, really going to miss him.”

The night’s other speaker was Robertson’s former head coach, David Rexroat.

“I’ll tell you some things I remember about Joe,” Rexroat started. “He wasn’t a real big, strong kid as far as height, but he was strong, he had grit, he had fire, he wanted to play, and he never complained.” 

Visibly emotional, Rexroat said he did not know how to prepare to speak to Robertson’s friends and family.

“As a coach, you plan for a game, you practice for a game, but you never prepare for this moment,” he said. “There’s no way I could prepare to speak to you guys. It’s tough for me as a coach, not just for us as coaches but for the players who played with Joe, and the family he has here tonight. I look at all these people who are here, that’s so special, and it’s special to see that we have a family that cares about a person like this.”

The vigil concluded with a final “at-bat” for Robertson.

“Now up for the Lakers, your left fielder, number three, Joe Robertson,” the PA announcer proclaimed. Immediately after, a group of Robertson’s former teammates and closest friends carried his jersey around the bases one last time. Upon reaching home plate, they presented the jersey to Robertson’s mother and immediate family.

Robertson’s funeral service will be held today (Friday, June 24) at 2 p.m. at H. E. Pruitt Memory Chapel in Jamestown. Bro Jason Walters will officiate. Friends may visit after 11 a.m. until the service starts. Interment will be at Jamestown Cemetery.

Former teammates carry Joe Robertson’s No. 3 jersey across home plate one last time Thursday night.
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Wes Feese is one of this company's owners and founders. He has previously worked as an editor, news reporter, sportswriter, photographer, and freelance contributor for newspapers across central Kentucky. He grew up in the Egypt community of Adair County and is a graduate of Adair County High School and Lindsey Wilson College.