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World War II veteran, music teacher celebrates 102nd birthday

At 102 years old, WWII vet Bud Roberds still plays the piano weekly at Peking Wok Restaurant.

BONSALL, Calif. — A legendary music teacher at Fallbrook High School is being honored by his former students. In this Zevely Zone, I was invited to a big day in Bonsall for the celebration of Bud Roberds' 102nd birthday. 

The Peking Wok Restaurant was filled with laughter and people. On a table sat a cake that would be music to anyone's ears it read, "Happy 102nd Birthday Bud." 

Playing the piano with fingers more worn than the keys he touched, there sat Bud Roberds. I asked the retired music teacher where the times goes? "That is a good question. I don't know," said Bud who started playing piano at the Peking Wok at 76 years old. Bud is now turning 102.

Credit: Rose Marie Peralta

I asked him why he continues to play weekly at the restaurant. "Why did I play so long? I didn't get fired," he responded with a chuckle.  Bud started playing music when he was 6 years old. He had a band that played all around Southern California.

Credit: CBS 8

After joining the Army and fighting in WWII, Bud became a music teacher. Mr. Roberds was the Band Director at Fallbrook High from 1956 to 1979. 

Rose Marie Peralta was his choir student in 1974. "Everybody knows him in Fallbrook, he is an icon," said Rose. The restaurant couldn't hold all his adoring fans, but the parking lot could.

Credit: CBS 8

Waiting for Bud outside was the Fallbrook High Marching Band. Students, faculty, and boosters found a way to honor Bud in the past, present and future. "In honor of yourself, and your efforts and paving the way for us, we are announcing today the Bud Roberds Music Scholarship," said Band Booster President Chris Potter.

Credit: CBS 8

"Oh wow," responded Bud as the large crowd cheered. "He is just a treasure," said Jerry Sayre who was Fallbrook High's Drum Major in 1970. "I'd like to think we are his legacy, I played music professionally for 15 years after school," said Jerry.

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As a teenager, Bud drove from dance hall to dance hall playing the piano and just never stopped. 

Bud renewed his driver's license at age 99. "We were praying that he wouldn't pass. But he studied and he did pass," said Lorraine and Bill Roberds who are Bud's children. They told me their dad was always a quick study and tough act to follow. "Everybody loves him, everybody loves him. So sweet, kind, so generous and always has a smile on his face, "said Lorraine. "Some people say the glass is half empty, some say it's half full, he is the kind who says it doesn't matter drink up we can get a refill," said Bill.  

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Bud can play by ear for hours with fingers that somehow just find their way. "When you hear a certain chord, when someone is playing is does get you here," said Bud pointing to his heart. Finally at the age of 102, it was time for the piano man to take a bow. "Happy Birthday dear Bud, Happy Birthday to you," the crowd sang.  

Followed by band members saying, "Thank you Mr. Roberds!!"  Bud told me his secret to living a long and healthy life has been drinking a glass of red wine every night and choosing the right grandparents.

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