James Owen Roberson
Peoria - James Owen Roberson, 85, of Peoria, Arizona passed away peacefully at his home on September 15, 2020. He was born in his country home outside Lubbock, Texas to the late Albert Owen Roberson and Virginia (Simpson) Roberson on May 25, 1935. He was the 'best older brother in the world' to his sister Dolores (Roberson) Gordon.
James graduated from Lubbock High School before attending Baylor University where he graduated in 1956 with a BA in Journalism. As a proud Baylor alumni, he was an avid follower of Baylor sports.
James married his high school sweetheart, Jo Ann (Van Norman), in May of 1955. He is survived by his five children Melanie Merrill (Robert) of Sun City, AZ, Sharyl Siegel (Robert) of Phoenix, AZ, James Roberson Jr. (Beth) of Sneads Ferry, NC, Trisha Roberson of Benson, NC, Joel Roberson (Deana) of Jacksonville, NC and many beloved grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, nephews and sister. He was predeceased by his wife Jo Ann in 1999.
Working in the economic development field brought him a successful career allowing him the opportunity to live all over the country and travel the world. He took a special interest in China and developed many relationships there. His favorite position was as CEO/President of the Research Triangle Park, Raleigh North Carolina. He loved seeing the research park grow and thrive as an excellent resource for North Carolina.
His accomplishments were many; a few examples are:
- Director, New Mexico Department of Development, 1967-1970
- Director, Rhode Island Department of Economic Development, 1974-1977
- Secretary of Economic and Community Development, Maryland, 1979-1983
- President, Chamber of Commerce, Louisville, Kentucky, 1983-1988
- Chairman of the Board, American Economic Development Council, 1985-1986
- Board of Directors, Charlotte Branch, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 1994-1999
- President and Chief Executive Officer, Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina, 1988-2004
- Board of Directors, Wake Technical Community College Foundation, 2007
- Board of Directors, North Carolina Biotechnology Center; Greater Triangle Regional Council; International Economic Development Council
- Member, American Economic Development Council (past chair); National Association of State Development Agencies; Maryland Economic Development Association (Council of Past Presidents); Association of University-Related Research Parks (past president)
- Career Achievement Award, Association of University Research Parks, 2000
- Lifetime Achievement Award, International Economic Development Council, 2002
- Citizen of the World, Council on International Affairs, 2004
He was fortunate to find love again when he met Rita Quinn and had a great 13 years before she lost her fight to cancer. He loved living in Cary, North Carolina and spending time at their Sunset Beach home.
After his retirement he moved to Sun City and later Peoria, Arizona and settled in nicely to adult community living. This is where he met his soul mate and best friend, Nancy Skoglund. He felt so blessed that he once again found love.
There will be a service and burial at the Historic Oakwood Cemetery, 701 Oakwood Avenue, Raleigh, NC 27601 at a future date.
Thanks to Best Funeral Home, Peoria, AZ for all the arrangements.
Published in The Arizona Republic from Sep. 18 to Sep. 20, 2020.