A WSJ ‘Who’s Who in America,’ Roback is international

From working on a building project in Amman, Jordan, to meeting the late Princess Diana in Paris, longtime Farragut Realtor Zafer “The Motel Man” Roback has had his share of international experiences — not to mention teaching martial arts in colleges and coaching high school football.

Last month, his achievements were spotlighted in a worldwide publication when Roback was chosen for the Marquis Who’s Who for the 2021-22 Lifetime Achievement Award in the Wall Street Journal.

“I am known as ‘The Motel Man’ worldwide. I sell and manage motels,” the 82-year-old said. “I’m very excited that they would nominate me to get me into ‘Who’s Who.’

“... It’s been a good life.”

Roback, who is with The Real Estate Office, said he got a call from someone at the Wall Street Journal who told him, “‘We’ve been investigating you. We want to let you know you have been nominated to be put in Who’s Who in America … you’ve done so much in your life.’”

Born in New York City, his family moved to Knox County in 1945, when his father went to work in Oak Ridge.

After Roback graduated from East High School, now Austin-East, in 1959, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he went into Army intelligence before going to South Korea.

There, “I was in charge of their intelligence program,” he said. “I took up judo, karate, aikido and jujutsu.”

After leaving Korea, Roback attended Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird then moved on to Camp Kilmer in central New Jersey and attended Rutgers University. He was honorably discharged from the Army in November 1962.

“I went up to Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Kentucky, which is now University of the Cumberlands,” Roback said.

He started a judo program there to pay for his tuition.

While at Cumberland College, Roback met his future wife, Ann Faulkner from Duff, Tennessee, to whom he’s been married for 55 years.

She taught at Ball Camp Elementary School and Concord Christian School.

The Robacks, who have lived in Farragut’s Village Green subdivision for 55 years, are parents of four children and two grandchildren.

After Roback graduated in August 1965, he started traveling worldwide, meeting such famous people as Princess Diane and Dodi Fayed, Filipino past president Sergio Osmeña, Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and former President Donald Trump.

“I have been all over the world and back,” he said.

Roback, who coached football at Farragut High School in 1966 and Doyle High School the following year, has worked in real estate for 50 years and in insurance for 15 years.

He also taught judo at the University of Tennessee.