Robert Edward James obituary photo
 
In Memory of

Robert Edward James

November 11, 1940 - November 25, 2016

Obituary


Dr. Robert Edward "Bob" James died on November 25, 2016 from complications due to Parkinson's disease.

Bob was born in Houston, Texas on November 11, 1940 to Bryant and Katherine James, the third of their four children. As a young boy, his family moved to La Grange, Texas where his father ran a dairy farm. After graduating from Fayetteville high school, Bob earned a BS in Chemistry from Texas A&M College in 1963. After completing his Master's at the University of Texas in Austin, he earned his PhD in Physical Chemistry at Texas A&M...

Dr. Robert Edward "Bob" James died on November 25, 2016 from complications due to Parkinson's disease.

Bob was born in Houston, Texas on November 11, 1940 to Bryant and Katherine James, the third of their four children. As a young boy, his family moved to La Grange, Texas where his father ran a dairy farm. After graduating from Fayetteville high school, Bob earned a BS in Chemistry from Texas A&M College in 1963. After completing his Master's at the University of Texas in Austin, he earned his PhD in Physical Chemistry at Texas A&M University in 1971. It was during his doctoral studies in the fall of 1967 that he met Joyce Ahrens, then a young RN working in Houston. They were married in March, 1968, just 6 months after their first date, and remained faithfully devoted to one another until Bob's death, almost 49 years later. Dr. James taught briefly at Northwestern State University in Alva, Oklahoma, but soon realized his passion was in practicing Chemistry. The family moved to Austin, Texas in 1972 after Bob accepted a position with the Texas Air Control Board, launching a professional career that would span 33 years and include both public and private sector work, as well as a move back to his native Houston in 1982.

A convert to Catholicism, Bob's mother Katherine instilled in him a love of Gospel music and a passion sharing his beautiful tenor's voice in worship services. Bob was a cantor and member of the men's choir at St. Louis Parish in Austin, Texas, and after moving to Houston, joined the Sounds of Faith folk choir at St. Thomas More Parish, where he was an active member for over 30 years.

Bob's upbringing "in the country," combined with his sharp intellect and incredibly kind disposition set the foundation for what would be a life-long love of nature, particularly with gardening, woodworking and conservation activities. Bob's love of gardening, combined with his advanced education in Chemistry produced an annual "mad scientist" effect, as larger and larger tomatoes were produced from his garden on an annual basis, always accompanied with the signature mischievous grin and twinkle in his eye that has recently manifested itself in more than one of his grandchildren. With an abundance of crepe myrtles always present thanks to Joyce's shared zeal for gardening, Bob quickly became (unofficially) the largest producer of cantilever wine bottle holders in the State of Texas. Production usually hit an annual peak just before Christmastime. In addition to gardening and woodworking, Bob loved cycling, regardless of whether he was riding a customized road bike in his youth, or a much gentler three-wheeler just two months ago. Bob also had a passion for swimming, and for many years in the summer could be found at the pool, gently plying the waters with a graceful afternoon of breaststroking.

Bob is survived by Joyce, his loving wife of almost 49 years, his daughter Angela, his son Matthew and Matthew's family: Wife Sarah, and grandchildren Patrick (14), Michael (12), Peter (12), Helen (9), and Danny (6).

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Houston Area Parkinson Society, 2700 Southwest Freeway, Suite 296, Houston, TX 77098.