Nature 17

John Charles Roberts

March 2, 1931 ~ April 14, 2020 (age 89)


John Charles Roberts died peacefully in his home on Tuesday, April 14, 2020.  John was born in Green Bay, WI, in 1931.  He moved to Madison in the mid-1940s.  He attended Edgewood Grade School and High School, graduating in 1949.

John worked in construction in the Madison area and as a forest service firefighter in Idaho before joining the U.S. Navy.  He served 4 years during the Korean War on a minesweeper, amphibious forces flagship, and a naval ship repair station in Newfoundland.  John returned to Chicago, where he worked as an elevator mechanic.  There, in 1955, he met and married the love of his life Betty Lou Awodey.

John enrolled at UW-Madison where he earned B.S., M.S., and PhD degrees in Urban and Regional Planning.  He received appointments at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning and the UW-Extension where he served as Extension Program Leader for Natural and Environmental Resources.

John spent much of his time enjoying his two favorite hobbies: bird watching and bicycling.  He and Betty traveled to many bird watching sites in the U.S. and Canada.  He biked the roads of Dane County and progressively the state trail system.  In 1995, John represented Wisconsin as a bicyclist at the National Senior Olympics.  He liked to tell people, “I didn’t finish first but I didn’t finish last, I was right in the middle.”

John is survived by his wife Betty, children Marisa and Carl, and granddaughter Jessica.

As per John’s request, there will be no service.  He encourages those he knew to make memorial donations to the Madison Chapter of the National Audubon Society or the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club. Our appreciation goes out to the staff and personnel at Wisconsin Heart, Unity Point Health, Meriter Hospital, and the Heartland Hospice Care team.

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