The Frist Art Museum mourns the passing of Ken Roberts on Friday, December 2. Mr. Roberts was an inspiring and widely respected business, civic, cultural, and philanthropic leader who worked tirelessly alongside Dr. Thomas F. Frist, Jr., to create the Frist Center for the Visual Arts.
From the community-wide visioning process “Nashville’s Agenda” that began in 1993, Mr. Roberts was selected to head the Action Team for the Arts and forged a path to secure Nashville’s former main post office as a home for the Frist. Through the years of persistent work that led to the opening of our doors on April 8, 2001, and more than two decades serving as President of the museum’s Board of Trustees, Mr. Roberts has been a catalytic force and tremendous asset for our institution.
The vision he and Dr. Frist shared for the museum was to exhibit the greatest art in the world for the benefit of the entire community and to be a place of education, inspiration, and most importantly, to be welcoming to all. With his enduring support, much of what was envisioned in those years of planning has come to fruition.
At the time of the Frist Art Museum’s conception, Mr. Roberts was the President of the Frist Foundation. With a remarkable work history in higher education, military service, law, and banking, he brought years of experience in both public and private sectors. He was also very active in his community and nonprofits in the greater Nashville area, serving as president of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce, as chairman of the board for the Salvation Army, and as a board member for the United Way of Middle Tennessee and the Nashville Symphony.
At 89 years old, he was serving as President Emeritus, Frist Art Museum; President Emeritus, The Frist Foundation; Board of Trust Emeritus, Vanderbilt University; and Trustee Emeritus of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, which on November 11, 2022, inducted him into the organization’s Circle Guard.
A beloved mentor to scores of museum staff members, Mr. Robert’s spirit, legacy, and vision will continue to serve as pillars of the Frist Art Museum for generations to come.
We offer our deepest gratitude for a life so well lived in service to our community and send our heartfelt sympathy to his family and all those who share this loss.
A memorial celebration service is set for 1 p.m. on Dec. 10 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, located at 3900 West End Ave. A visitation will be held at the church immediately after the service.