James A. Roberts 1944 - 2009 Lawrence
Memorial services for James A. “Jim” Roberts, 65, Lawrence, will be at 3 p.m. Thursday at First United Methodist Church, 946 Vt. Inurnment will be at a later date in Memorial Park Cemetery in Chanute.
Mr. Roberts died Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009, at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, after a bout with cancer.
He was born on March 11, 1944, in Vandalia, Ill., the son of James and Marjorie Toad Roberts, both of whom preceded him in death.
Mr. Roberts grew up in Chanute, where he graduated from Chanute High School in 1962 as student body president. He attended Kansas University, where he joined Sigma Nu fraternity and became commander. He graduated in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, graduating first in his class.
He moved to the Boston area, where he worked for RCA on NASA’s Apollo moon project. During this time, he also attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1968.
In 1969, Mr. Roberts moved to the Silicon Valley area, where he worked in the aerospace industry until 1983. While in Northern California, he obtained a doctorate in electrical engineering from Santa Clara University.
In 1983, he moved to the Denver area, where he took over management of a major aerospace project for TRW Inc., now part of Northrup Grumman. He eventually became the manager of TRW-Denver.
In 1990, Mr. Roberts fulfilled a lifelong dream and returned to Lawrence to become professor and chairman of the electrical engineering department at KU. Beginning in January 1998, he served as associate vice chancellor for research and public service and later as associate vice provost. He was the vice provost for research from 2003 until 2007. In 2007, he returned to teaching as a full-time professor. During his time at KU, he also served as the president and chief operating officer of the KU Center for Research Inc. and on Sen. Pat Roberts’ Advisory Committee on Science, Technology and the Future.
Among his numerous other professional, civic, and charitable activities, he was a founding board member of the Douglas County ECO2 committee and the Lawrence-Douglas County Bioscience Authority. He also served as president of the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Denver, president of the Noon Kiwanis in Lawrence, and a fellow in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Mr. Roberts enjoyed reading, genealogy, collecting Russian stamps and spending time with family and friends at Grand Lake in Oklahoma. He was particularly proud of his personal library, his ability to mix a great martini and his family.
He married his childhood sweetheart, Carol Diane Helton, in June 1965. She survives, of the home.
Other survivors include a son, Mike and wife Anita, Overland Park; a daughter, Sally Roberts Gorzelanski and husband Mike, Littleton, Colo.; four grandchildren, Abby and Jake Roberts and Max and Hank Gorzelanski; a sister, Nancy Castellucci; his parents-in-law, Bill and Barbara Helton; brother-in-law, Richard Helton and wife Mechalina; sister-in-law, Joan Myers and husband Ken; and many cousins, nieces, nephews and other relatives.
The family suggests memorials to the James and Carol Roberts Fund, a scholarship fund for electrical engineering students at KU, through the KU Endowment Association, sent in care of Warren-McElwain Mortuary.
Online condolences may be sent at warrenmcelwain .com, subject: Roberts.