Obituary: James Howard Roberts

December 1, 1931 – February 6, 2019

James Howard Roberts, 87, passed away peacefully on Feb. 6, 2019, in the company of his loving family. His passing was eased by the compassionate care of Alaska Regional Hospital. James will be remembered as a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, church going man, neighbor and master gardener.

James was born on Dec. 1, 1931, to Georgia and Harold Roberts at the family farmhouse in Terry Township, Bradford County, Pa.; the eldest of eight children. His father passed while training in Great Lakes, Ill., for the U.S. Navy. James was 12 and became the man of the farm.

He graduated from Wyalusing High School in 1950, and joined the U.S. Army. He completed his communication training in northern Virginia. He requested to transfer to Alaska, a lifelong dream, inspired by reading the works of Jack London. James’s first duty station was Anchorage, at Government Hill in the communications department. He later was transferred to Cordova, where he served for three years. In 1962, the Army wanted to transfer him to New Mexico, he declined the assignment. So, after 12 years in the Army he was honorably discharged.

He immediately went to work in the canneries and through Don Everly was offered a position with Pacific Northern Airlines in November 1962. This would later become Western Airlines in 1967. In December 1968, Western Airlines transferred James to Anchorage. He went to Europe, and to finish off his trip, he flew to Honolulu, Hawaii, and met his bride to be Kathy — Kathleen Ravlin — in October 1969. They were married in August 1970, and Kathy moved to Anchorage. In 1987, Western Airlines was merged with Delta Airlines and James stayed on until 1993, when he retired.

James loved working with plants and began working for Bells Nursery soon after retirement. James enjoyed reading and gardening  and was an active member of Jewel Lake Parish. His home garden was a point of pride and he enjoyed growing food for his family and friends. James and Kathy performed as Mr. and Mrs. Claus for many years, bringing joy to others.

Preceded in death were his parents, Georgia (Huffman) and Harold Roberts; brothers, Ralph, Keith and Junior; and sister, Florence of Wyalusing, Pa. James is survived by his wife, Kathy Roberts of Anchorage; children, James Jr. of Fremont, Calif., and Scott and Megan of Anchorage; grandchildren, Misty of Washington, TimAyn Stafford (James) of Katy, Texas, Arissa Pearson (Josh) of Cordova, Alaska, and Kris and Bradley of Anchorage. James had 12 great-grandchildren. Surviving siblings are Virginia Carter and Larry Roberts of Wyalusing, Pa., and Linda James of Buffalo, N.Y.


In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Jewel Lake Parish, 3833 Strawberry Road, Anchorage, AK 99502.