James Elliott Roantree, Jr.
June 29, 1927 – July 10, 2018
James Elliott Roantree, Jr., son of James Elliott Roantree and Alfrida Zelander, born on June 29, 1927, in Forest Hills, Massachusetts, died peacefully on July 10, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas.
Jim grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and enjoyed many boyhood activities including sailing, hunting and camping with his family, canoeing, bowling, card games and collecting coins. He attended high school at Western Military Academy, graduating in 1945 with honors. He was in the Navy ROTC for a year at the University of Utah, then transferred to the University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbanna, where he was a Civil Engineering major and an active member of the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. After graduation in 1949 he worked for a few years before the Army sent him to the Philippines during the Korean War.
After the war, Jim began his very successful career, working as an engineer and manager with Roanwell Corporation. In August 1954, on a blind date, he met the love of his life, Joan Elizabeth Florstedt, and after a whirlwind courtship including many dates on sailboats and in races, they were soon engaged and married in May of 1955. They travelled in a 1954 MG to the Florida Keys for their honeymoon.
Both Jim and Joan knew they wanted a large family and between 1956 and 1962 they had four daughters while Jim continued to build his engineering and managerial career with The Singer Sewing Machine Company. In 1967, after a fabulous month-long vacation to Europe with the whole family, Jim broke tradition, retired early and bought a beautiful farm in New Hampshire where he raised Black Angus cattle!
Through the years Jim and Joan continued their love-affair – with each other – and their daughters – and journeyed on family vacations around the United States and in the Caribbean waters on sail boats. They continued to raise Black Angus, helping to build the beef industry in New England, winning championships at fairs, and helping the girls learn about hard work and being tenacious in all that they wanted to accomplish.
While three of his daughters were at the University of New Hampshire, Durham, Jim decided to retire from farming, and returned to school and successfully received his Masters in Sanitary Engineering. His studies enhanced his work in Water Pollution and Supply Control with the State of New Hampshire.
Jim and Joan truly missed sailing the open waters, so once again, Jim retired – and they boldly moved to Pensacola, Florida, where Jim was a Professional Engineer for Escambia County – and with some friends, they purchased a sailboat, they joined the Yacht Club – and were sailing once again! They also found time to play lots and lots of bridge!
As time moved on, and they were blessed with all of their daughters marrying the loves of their lives (now Jim and Joan had four sons as well!) they found they enjoyed driving around the United States visiting their daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, family and friends from New Hampshire and northeastern United States, and Jim’s fraternity brothers, they decided to move closer to oldest daughter Kathy who was relocating to Texas. They moved from Florida to Alabama for a few years – and then made the move to Fort Worth, Texas.
Jim and Joan found The Vantage – and found many, many friends who they came to love dearly. They played lots of bridge, and their friends heard stories about their cruises around the world, and visits to their ever-growing family around the country.
Throughout a number of years Jim helped Joan with her memoirs about her amazing life in her book – Have Sun in Your Heart. But before they could finish her book, Joan passed away suddenly on June 13, 2016. Jim’s friends from The Vantage, and new friends they met through The Empty Nesters, were a wonderful support when Jim’s love of his life, Joan Elizabeth Florstedt Roantree, left us. They had been married 61 years!
Never losing the twinkle in his eye, Jim celebrated his love for Joan and of their life together, by working with family friend, Wendy, to finish and publish Joan’s book. Jim also found an aqua blue, color of the Caribbean seas, 2002 Ford Thunderbird – and played bridge 4 times a week!
Now it was time to truly celebrate Jim’s amazing life – and in August of 2017 – Jim’s four daughters and 50 family and friends – gathered in Gilford, New Hampshire on the shores of the beautiful Lake Winnipesauke to honor Jim and his 90 years! A grand celebration it was!
Jim continued to spend time with family and friends – traveling now by plane – and enjoyed visits with family around the country. But in June 2018, just as he was turning 91 he was diagnosed with cancer and after a very short time, with no pain, and lots of love from his nurses at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and Community Hospice of Texas, Jim died quietly on July 10, 2018.
Jim was predeceased by his wife of 61 years, Joan Elizabeth Florstedt Roantree, his brother Bill Roantree, and his sister Joan Roantree Palmer. His sisters-in-law June and Bobbi lives on Long Island. His four daughters and their husbands will continue his legacy – Kathy Roantree Renken and Jeff Renken of Azle, Texas, Carrie Roantree Ahlborn and Seth Ahlborn of Henderson, Nevada, Cindy Joan Butera and Tim Butera of Alpine, Wyoming, and Suzanne Roantree Krauss and Ken Krauss of Gilford, New Hampshire. Jim and Joan had ten grandchildren – 6 granddaughters - Ashley (Wisconsin), Connor (Washington, DC), Emily (Colorado), Madeleine (Colorado), Katy (Florida), and Jamie (Nevada); and 4 grandsons - Douglas (Georgia), Alex (Kansas), Max (Florida), and Tim (Colorado). Jim and Joan had 5 great-grandchildren – Elliott and Dempsey in Wisconsin, and Benjamin, Andrew and Zachariah in Georgia.
In lieu of flowers, as both Jim and Joan were engineers, the family requests that gifts be made in memory of Jim and Joan Roantree to the National Cathedral School (NCS), for scholarships for young women who are interested in engineering. NCS is an all-girls school, grades 4-12, and is associated with the Washington National Cathedral. Joan referred to the Cathedral as the nation’s cathedral, a place where all are welcome. Jim and Joan’s granddaughter Connor teaches chemistry and engineering at NCS. National Cathedral School, 3612 Woodley Road, NW, Washington, DC 20016