Villa Park dad accepts diploma in memory of slain son
Victor Robles earned his degree from the College of DuPage last year, but he decided to forgo the pomp and circumstance.
His father, Aurelio Robles, was disappointed not to see his son walk across the stage. So Victor promised he would attend this year's commencement ceremony.
But the Villa Park honor student didn't live to fulfill his father's dream.
Victor was shot to death in December by his stepfather, who also killed Victor's mother, authorities said.
On Friday, Aurelio Robles, in green cap and gown and wearing the gold stole and tassel signifying Victor's membership in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, accepted his son's associate degree in psychology.
It would have been Victor's 21st birthday.
Robles, 55, quietly took Victor's place in the line of students.
He wanted to honor his son without drawing attention to himself or his family's tragedy.
"We don't want our loss to be a downer for people," Robles said. "(Graduation) is a celebration for them and their family's accomplishment, and it's a celebration for us and our family's accomplishment. We want to have smiles on our faces, and on their faces."
Victor's older brother, Ben Javra, 28, of Naperville, also accepted his degree Friday.
"He's doing it for himself, and for Victor," Robles said.
Robles, the patriarch of a large, close-knit family, planned a gathering at his townhouse to celebrate the boys' graduations, followed by a visit to Victor's grave at Elm Lawn Cemetery in Elmhurst.
They were extraordinarily close, this father and son.
"We were a team, Victor and I," Robles said.
"He trusted me to help him reach his goals. In exchange, I asked him to do the best that he could. I've always had his back."
Victor had gone to Arkansas to spend the Christmas holidays with his mother, Louise Svensson, 56, formerly of Lombard, who had remarried.
The Friday before he left, Victor had a date in the afternoon. He and his father had planned to see a movie that night.
"He cut his date short to go to the movies with me," Robles said. "At 20 years old, how many children want to spend time with their parents?"
The next morning, Victor got his things together for the trip. His mother came to pick him up.
"I hugged Victor, I kissed him and I told him I loved him," Robles said.
"I never saw him again."
The bodies, with multiple gunshot wounds, were found on Christmas Eve.
Victor, a trim young man with the looks of a model and an intense drive to succeed, was a 2008 graduate of Willowbrook High School. He was a middle-of-the-road student until his junior year, when he started earning all A's. One of his prized possessions was a T-shirt that read, "This is what 4.0 looks like."
He planned to continue his studies and pursue a career in pharmacy.
"His goal was to do research on the effects of drugs on mental illness," Robles said. "He wanted to combine his love for psychology and his medical training."
He set his goals high, aiming for admission to Northwestern University or Duke University.
"He was very focused, very disciplined," Robles recalled. "He didn't waste a moment."
Victor enjoyed playing chess, working out and watching movies, especially foreign films. He liked studying languages and wanted to travel.
Robles' home is filled with family photographs, including many of Victor. One photo, which has been enlarged, shows Victor tenderly cradling Ben's tiny newborn son. It was one of the last photographs taken of Victor.
Robles calls Victor "my angel."
The family is establishing a scholarship fund for College of DuPage students. Donations are being accepted at West Suburban Bank in Lombard.
For details, email RememberVictor@hotmail.com or visit memorialwebsites.legacy.com/RememberVictor/Homepage.aspx.
The scholarship will provide $1,000 to $2,000 to a deserving COD student -- and lasting comfort to Victor's family.
"He'll always be with us," Robles said.
Diploma: 'He'll always be with us,' Victor's father says