Jim Roberts, known as “Mr. Playground” for his Kiwanis efforts to construct 65 school play areas, was honored by the Kiwanis Club of Napa this month on the occasion of his 90th birthday.
He received three awards, two renditions of “Happy Birthday” and a proclamation presented by Vice Mayor Mary Luros designating Oct. 6 “Jim Roberts Day.”
“This is for all of the work he’s done for the children of Napa,” said Madeline Wyman, who planned and produced the event with the help of fellow Kiwanians Julie Morales, Sandy Leveque and Michelle Hock.
Roberts was being recognized for his 60 years of service to Kiwanis, including 50 years of service to Kiwanis International; 40 years of arranging field trips and outings for special-needs kids; and 20 years of collaboration with the Napa Valley Unified School District and the City of Napa in constructing safe and inviting playgrounds at virtually every elementary school in Napa.
He received a plaque from the Napa County Probation Department for improving the lives of students at Liberty and Chamberlain high schools by providing academic scholarships.
He was also honored for taking special-needs kids on bowling outings and fishing trips, teaching them how to fly kites, hosting annual picnics in local parks and reading with youngsters at elementary schools.
He was also surprised to see his family at the Kiwanis party.
In addition to Dorothy, his wife of 69 years, his family in attendance included daughter Betsy Masterson, a retired teacher and former principal at Browns Valley and Napa Junction elementary schools.
Roberts is the former owner of Roberts Bel Aire Variety, where many young Napans got their first jobs. He also served on the Napa Town & Country Fair Board and on the Board of the Napa City/County Library.