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Source: Irrigation Association news release

James "Jim" Roberts passed away peacefully in Escondido, Calif., on May 15, 2014. Jim was born June 3, 1930, in Los Angeles. He graduated from Burbank High School in 1948 and from the University of Southern California in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering.

An engineer by education and an inventor by nature, Jim followed his dream to be a farmer. He developed raw land into citrus groves from the late 1950s until 2006.

After observing the established agricultural irrigation methods for groves in the 1950s, Jim was convinced that there was a better way to irrigate while conserving water and improving the quality and quantity of crops. He experimented with low volume/drip irrigation beginning in 1959, and in 1968, he founded Roberts Irrigation Products, Inc. (San Marcos, Calif.) in the family home on his farm.

He was an irrigation industry pioneer, inventing and patenting numerous efficient irrigation devices over the years. Jim and his wife, Betty, took an innovative irrigation idea conceived on a farm and built a business that sold products all over the globe.

In 1999, Jim received the Irrigation Association's Industry Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to the irrigation industry. Jim lived to see the early idea of low volume/drip irrigation become an accepted worldwide practice today.

Married in 1957, Jim and Betty shared a wonderful life with their three children, Heidi, Susie and John. Jim was a lifelong sports enthusiast, enjoying golf, tennis, skiing, fishing and especially fly-fishing. Jim coached youth sports teams and regularly attended his children's and grandchildren's sporting and school events. With Jim, every day was an adventure.

Jim is survived by his wife of 57 years, Betty; daughter Heidi Lynch; daughter Susan Phillips and son-in-law Gary Bronsveld; son John and daughter-in-law Karen Roberts; and five beloved grandchildren Stephen, Zachary, Mark, Alexandra and Danny.

A celebration of Jim's life was held on Thursday, May 29, at First United Methodist Church in Escondido. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent to the First United Methodist Church Trustees Fund (341 S. Kalmia St., Escondido, CA 92025), or to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater San Diego (PO Box 178569, San Diego, CA 92177).

Jim will be greatly missed, but the irrigation industry will always remember his hard-working, generous spirit and his lasting contributions to the field of irrigated agriculture.

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