MEDINA — Former three-term Medina Mayor Jim Roberts died late Sunday night of kidney failure. He was 72.
Roberts served as mayor for 12 years — from 1990 to 2001. He also served as a Ward 4 councilman for four years.
Born July 3, 1940, in Shelbyville, Ill., Roberts had lived in Medina since the 1970s.
Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell credited Roberts with expanding the city’s parks system and promoting community policing initiatives, which received state and national recognition.
“He was a good guy. I enjoyed working with him,” said Hanwell, who was a Medina police lieutenant and police chief while Roberts was mayor.
Roberts’ son, John Roberts, 39, who lives in Michigan, said his father loved Medina.
“Medina was a passion for him,” he said. “He cared about the children, the community, the economic development, the safety.”
Roberts was a co-founder of Medina Presbyterian Church and served as president of the Ella Canavan Elementary School Parent Teacher organization.
As a politician, John Roberts said his father was always very accessible to people.
“He loved it when people would come up and talk to him,” he said.
Roberts’ final term as mayor was marred by scandals. A November 1998 lawsuit revealed he had fathered a child in 1992 by a former secretary. An undisclosed child-support settlement with the secretary’s estranged husband was reached in Medina County Common Pleas Court.
In 2001, Roberts was convicted of a misdemeanor theft in office charge for having a city worker, on city time, install shelves in a home Roberts owned.
Later that year, Roberts lost his bid for re-election to Jane Leaver.
In 2005, Roberts failed in a comeback attempt for mayor, again losing to Leaver by a wide margin.
During his final 2005 campaign, Roberts addressed the issue of the paternity suit in a Gazette story: “I acknowledged I made a mistake, and I have apologized to many people,” he said. “But one mistake is not the sum total of a person’s life.”
John Roberts said his father should be remembered for his care for others.
“Essentially, we all make mistakes in life, and we all need to understand what forgiveness is,” he said.
Roberts served in the military with the 82nd Airborne Division from 1960 to 1963. One of his main responsibilities was working as a chaplain’s assistant, his son said.
In addition to John, Roberts is survived by a second son, Paul; two grandchildren, Braelyn, 13, and Ayla, 9; and his former wife, Carol Roberts.
A memorial visitation will be noon to 1:15 p.m. Monday at Carlson Funeral Home, 3477 Medina Road (state Route 18 and River Styx Road), Medina Township.
A celebration of life service will follow at 1:15 p.m. Burial will be in the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman.
His obituary is on A6 of today’s print edition of The Gazette.
Contact reporter Kiera Manion-Fischer at (330) 721-4049 or email@example.com.
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