A lifelong resident of Rhode Island, Jim graduated from Mount Saint Charles Academy in 1968 before attending Providence College, where he graduated magna cum laude and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration (accounting).
After graduation, Jim joined Ernst & Ernst (now Ernst & Young) as an accountant before attending the University of Notre Dame, where he earned a master’s degree in business administration. He also earned his CPA designation.
It was at Notre Dame where he met a fellow classmate, Virginia Conlisk, who later became his wife of 44 years. She survives him, as does their son, Daniel James, and two beloved cats, Sigmund and Guinness.
Jim held accounting and finance roles at a variety of companies, including Texas Instruments, in Attleboro, Mass., and H&H Screw Products, Lincoln, R.I. He then joined the Avedis Zildjian Company in Norwell, Mass., where he was the Controller and then Chief Financial Officer before rising to the Chief Executive Officer position. Jim later formed his own company, marketing a variety of garden tools under the brand name, The Rumford Gardener, and consulting on product placement and distribution.
The loves of Jim’s life were his family, education, and baseball, which he played as a freshman at Providence College and throughout his life. Baseball gave him an opportunity to bond each season with his father Eldridge, also known as “Ellie.” Father and son were both inducted into the Cranberry League Baseball Hall of Fame.
A dry wit with a playful sense of humor, Jim leapt at his first opportunity to attend Red Sox Fantasy Camp, becoming the camp’s MVP in 1991, and attending the following year as well. He still holds the Fantasy Camp record for most home runs in one game, as confirmed by the Red Sox organization. His hitting that 1991 day - initially two homers - drew the attention of many Red Sox greats, including Bobby Doerr and Luis Tiant, who sped to the field in their golf carts when they heard Jim was at bat. They arrived just in time to see him belt his third home run out of the park.
Jim converted his love of playing into coaching. His son benefitted from his coaching both in the Rumford Little League, including one year as coach of the All-Star team, and at the Wheeler School when Dan was in middle school. Jim also was the hitting coach (aka “whisperer”) for the Wheeler Upper School. He also coached the American Legion Team in East Providence on the beautifully manicured Bob Dickerman field.
Jim also believed strongly in the value of an excellent education, guiding Dan’s educational pursuits through Wheeler, Hotchkiss and Northwestern. He also was there for his nieces and nephews and family friends, always ready and willing to write a strong college admission recommendation for them. He was particularly thrilled when three of his Midwestern nieces chose schools in the East - and then stayed close to his family.
Jim was devoted to his wife and son, who played golf with him as a member of both the Agawam Hunt Club, Rumford, R.I., and the Acoaxet Club in Westport, Mass. He taught his son to play when Dan was young - which was how he coaxed his wife into learning how to play golf. Jim and Virginia enjoyed playing together over these past many years. Jim also was a member at Warren’s Point Beach Club.
In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by sister Joyce (Michael) Neville, and sister Barbara (Alan) Madsen. Jim’s brother, Richard (Martha), predeceases him.
He also is survived by his wife’s siblings, A. Terrence (Paulette) Conlisk, William (Alice) Conlisk, Mary (Marty) Werner, and Elizabeth Conlisk; 10 nieces and nephews, and 10 great-nieces and nephews.
Calling hours will be from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 1, at Monahan, Drabble & Sherman Funeral Home, 230 Waterman St., Providence.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at noon on Tuesday, June 1, at St. Margaret Catholic Church, 1098 Pawtucket Ave., Rumford. Private burial will be in Rumford Cemetery.
For a live stream of the funeral mass go to St. Margaret Parish facebook page
The family would like to thank the many doctors and staff at the Miriam Hospital and Tockwotton on the Waterfront for caring for Jim.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Catholic Foundation of Rhode Island for the James E. Roberts Fund for Catholic Education (One Cathedral Square, Providence, RI 02903); The San Miguel School (525 Branch Ave, Providence, RI 02904), whose mission Jim admired from afar; and Mount Saint Charles Academy (800 Logee St., Woonsocket, RI 02895).
To send flowers or plant a tree in memory of James Eldridge Roberts, visit the Tribute Store.
210 Taunton Ave
East Providence, RI 02914
Rumford, RI 02916