James Roberts Jr.

Memorial Services for James A. “Jim” Roberts, 65, Lawrence, KS will be at 3 p.m. Thursday, September 10, 2009 at the First United Methodist Church (946 Vermont St.) in Lawrence.  Inurnment will be at a later date in the Memorial Park Cemetery in Chanute, KS. He died on Saturday evening, September 5, 2009 at Lawrence Memorial Hospital, after a courageous bout with cancer.  

He was born on March 11, 1944 in Vandalia, Illinois, the son of James and Marjorie (“Toad”) Roberts, both of whom preceded him in death.

Jim grew up in Chanute, Kansas, where he graduated from Chanute High School in 1962 as student body president.  He attended the University of Kansas, where he joined the Sigma Nu fraternity and became commander.  He graduated in 1966 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering, graduating first in his class. Jim moved to the Boston area, where he worked for RCA on the NASA Apollo moon mission project.  During this time, he also attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, earning a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1968.  In 1969, Jim moved to the Silicon Valley area, where he worked in the high-tech aerospace industry until 1983.  While in Northern California, Jim obtained his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Santa Clara University. 

In 1983, Jim moved to the Denver area, where he took over the management of a major aerospace project for TRW Inc. (now part of Northrup Grumman).  He eventually became the manager of TRW-Denver.  In 1990, he fulfilled a life-long dream and returned to Lawrence to become professor and Chairman of the Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Kansas.  Beginning in January 1998, Jim 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, Jim also served as the president and chief operating officer of the KU Center for Research, Inc. and on Senator Pat Roberts’ Advisory Committee on Science, Technology, and the Future.

Among his numerous other professional, civic, and charitable activities, Jim served on the founding board of the Douglas County ECO² Commission, the committee that wrote the Douglas County Bioscience Plan.  He also served as president of the board of Big Brothers of Denver, president of the noon Kiwanis in Lawrence, and a fellow in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Personal interests included reading, genealogy, collecting Russian stamps, and spending time with family and friends at Grand Lake, Okla.  He was particularly proud of his personal library, his ability to mix a great martini, and most importantly, his family.

Jim married his childhood sweetheart, Carol Diane Helton, in June 1965.  She survives of the home.

Other survivors include: his son, Mike Roberts, and his wife, Anita, of Overland Park, KS; his daughter, Sally Roberts Gorzelanski and her husband, Mike, of Littleton, CO; his four grandchildren, Abby Roberts, Jake Roberts, Max Gorzelanski, and Hank Gorzelanski; his sister, Nancy Castellucci; his parents-in-law, Bill and Barbara Helton; his brother-in-law, Richard Helton and his wife, Mechalina; his sister-in-law, Joan Myers, and her husband, Ken; and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and other relatives.

The family suggests memorials in his name to the James and Carol Roberts Fund, a scholarship fund for electrical engineering students at KU, through the KU Endowment Association, and may be sent in care of the Warren-McElwain Mortuary in Lawrence.

Online condolences may be sent to www.warrenmcelwain.com  Subject: Roberts



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