Not even murder can keep the man who might be York County's oldest surviving World War II veteran from doing what he has done for years - riding next to a man named Roberts in a classic 1974 Cadillac convertible in Saturday's annual York Veterans Day parade.
For years, York's Ray King - a Navy veteran of World War II now pushing 99 - rode in the parade alongside his next-door neighbor from Roberts Avenue, Melvin Roberts.
The former mayor of York - a lawyer for more than a half-century after serving two stretches in the Army himself - Roberts would crank up the ocean-blue Eldorado, gather up his pal King, and drive the parade route on Congress Street.
The townspeople would wave and call out, "Mr. Roberts!" at seeing the car - practically as long as downtown itself - and the vets inside.
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Roberts and King would beam.
Both men were founders and past commanders of York's VFW post. Each volunteered time and money and effort for other veterans.
In that classic old Caddy, King and Roberts showed what York and its heart was all about.
But in February, Roberts, 79, was strangled at his home. York was in shock. Months later, Roberts' girlfriend, Julia Phillips, was charged in the killing.
Yet for the people who put on this parade - and Roberts' two sons - there was no way that a tradition was going to end.
York's T.J. Martin, a Korean War veteran and former prisoner of war who organizes the parade every year, is a longtime friend of both King and Roberts.
"Ray King and Melvin Roberts together were a fixture in this parade," said Martin. "The men and the car."
There is no way to know for sure if Ray King is the oldest surviving World War II veteran in York. But Martin, who also sits on the county veterans council, isn't aware of any older.
King was already 29 with a four-year stretch in the Navy behind him when Pearl Harbor was bombed in December 1941.
King was a businessman in those days, owning and running the old Western Auto on Congress Street along with his wife, the late Virginia Nivens King. They had a baby son - Ray Jr.
"My father was like a lot of men in the Depression; he joined the service," said Ray King Jr. "He was out and making a living in York, but war came and he went right back in."
King was back in the Navy the week after Pearl Harbor, and he didn't get home until four years later, in 1945. King was a chief gunner's mate on several ships, serving in combat in the Pacific and in the Mediterranean.
All that time, during those war years, his wife ran the store.
"People gave up a lot to serve their country in those days," said Virginia King Hildebrand, the couple's daughter, in a huge understatement.
It is no wonder Melvin Roberts, who treasured loyalty and service, became such close friends with his next-door neighbor.
No wonder Roberts would drive that Cadillac with King next to him each year in the veterans parade.
"Lots of memories in this car with Melvin," said King. "A great man, Melvin. The best."
Both King and Roberts looked forward to parade day in that Cadillac Roberts bought new - sticker price in 1974: $7,750 - that only has a smidgen more than 15,000 original miles on it.
"Dad always thought the world of Mr. King and driving in that parade was important to him," said David Roberts. "It was about York, and he loved York."
So on Saturday, Ronnie Roberts, Melvin Roberts' other son, will crank up the Caddy and drive it next door to his father's home and pick up Ray King.
With Ronnie Roberts driving that Azure-blue boat of a ride seemingly as long as King's Navy destroyer, Ray King will again get a chance to meet the public in a parade.
Today is Veterans Day and Saturday in York is the Veterans Day parade.
This little city of about 9,000 people doesn't have the largest veterans parade around. There are only about 15 entries. It is not the longest - just over one block that makes up downtown.
But this parade, especially this year, means a lot for a place that lost its most recognizable citizen and champion in Roberts - and still has guys like King.
"Dad would have wanted me to do this," Ronnie Roberts said of driving his father's Cadillac, with Ray King next to him.
"It is an honor."
Want to go?
On this Veterans Day, here are some opportunities to honor those who put it all on the line for our freedom:
11 a.m. today - Chester County's annual Veterans Day ceremony will be upstairs in the Chester County War Memorial, 154 Main St., Chester. In addition to speakers, a Junior ROTC troop will present the colors.
4 p.m. today - A Veterans of Foreign Wars honor guard will be on hand during a brief ceremony to restore the last of more than two dozen bronze flower vases stolen and vandalized this week at veterans graves in Bass-Cauthen Cemetery on Heckle Boulevard in Rock Hill. The public is invited.
10 a.m. Saturday - The York Veterans Day parade heads north on Congress Street from Jefferson Street to Madison Street, with a program at the end in the Whitesides Cleaners parking lot.