James W. Roberts
1926 - 2020
Jim loved his family and friends, he loved Napa and he loved children.
Jim was born just before the Great Depression, and spent his earliest years shuttled between relatives in Arizona and central California. He eventually settled with his father in Oakland, where they lived behind a pool hall and barbershop. Life was tough, but Jim scraped by with newspaper routes and successful fishing at Lake Merritt.
Jim couldn't wait to join the Word War II effort following his early, high school graduation. He spent his enlistment with the occupational forces in Japan. Upon his return, he married his high school sweetheart, Dorothy. They started their family in the East Bay, where two young sons, Steve and Doug, were born. They seized an opportunity to own a small, variety store in St. Helena in 1953. Their young family grew, with the birth of Betsy, then Paul. Jim and Dorothy enjoyed a 73 year marriage of romance, friendship and partnership.
Jim and Dorothy took a chance on an opportunity to open a larger, and potentially more lucrative store in 1959 and launched Roberts Bel Aire Variety in Napa. Their business thrived and eventually evolved into Roberts Hallmark & Gifts. They took great pride in receiving spontaneous compliments over the years from former patrons of their business.
Jim's dedication to helping children started when he was the Boy Scout Master in St. Helena, before his sons were old enough for Cub Scouts. He was also actively involved with the Knights of Columbus and the St. Vincent de Paul Society. During his retail career, he discovered the joy of active participation in an impactful service club, Kiwanis. Jim also was dedicated to the Napa Library, where he served on the Board for many years, and several other charities. After Jim and Dorothy sold their business in 1994, Jim focused his retirement on his charitable activities.
We hope that Jim will be remembered for his leadership and support of the marvelous efforts of the Kiwanis Club of Napa to enrich the lives of youth. He was especially proud of the 75 playgrounds they built in the Napa Valley. He loved working shoulder to shoulder with his fellow Kiwanians, as they devoted their weekends to constructing places for kids to be kids, safely.
Jim was a wonderful husband, father, friend and community leader. He was fortunate to have received many accolades during his long career of service. The ultimate honor for Jim was the dedication of the wonderful playground in Fuller Park to him in 2017. He was also proud of the recognition he received from Kiwanis International.
Jim is survived by his wife, Dorothy, sons Steve (Dorothy), Doug (Margi) & Paul (Mylene) and daughter, Betsy Masterson (J.T.). His grandchildren include Sabrina McKinney, Tony Crull, Andrew Roberts, Michael Wendell, Amanda Lavoy, Sylvia Menezes, Skyler Roberts and Maya Roberts and four great grandchildren.
A private, family service was held for Jim, with respect for Covid 19 precautions. We hope to organize a more appropriate celebration when circumstances permit.
If you wish to make a donation in Jim's memory, his family suggests Collabria Care, the Queen of the Valley Hospital Foundation or the Kiwanis Club of Napa.