John Evan Roberts, 92, Stevens Point, a former high school and college coach and a retired executive director of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA), died Sunday, Dec. 16, 2012, at Oakridge Senior Living in Stevens Point.
A service to celebrate his life will be held at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Stevens Point following the holidays.
Boston Funeral Home of Stevens Point assisted the family with arrangements. Condolences may be offered online at www.bostonfuneralhome.net.
Donations in his honor should be given for the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) Wrestling Room or the YMCA.
Mr. Roberts was born April 20, 1920, in Adair, Iowa. He graduated from Valley High in West Des Moines, Iowa. He earned a bachelor of science degree from UW-Madison, and played football for the Badgers from 1940 to 1942. He was twice a Big Ten wrestling champion and finished as NCAA runner-up in 1941.
He was married to Janet Alley on Aug. 9, 1944, in Fort Atkinson. She died on Oct 2, 2009.
He served as a pilot instructor for the Army Air Corps during the first two of their 65 years together.
After returning to UW for a master of science degree in 1946, Mr. Roberts came to P.J. Jacobs High School as athletic director and coach for football, wrestling and track; his football teams recorded two undefeated seasons and his wrestling team won a state championship.
He began work at UWSP in 1952 as dean of men and coach for football and wrestling; his 1955 football team remains the only undefeated squad in Pointers’ history. UWSP recently dedicated the John Roberts Wrestling Room in his honor.
In 1957 he became the executive director of the WIAA, where he served until his retirement in 1986. He championed the introduction of women’s sports into high school athletics, and further served the sports he loved through his extensive participation on a number of national and Olympic-level rules committees and governing boards.
He was inducted into eight state and national athletic Halls of Fame; he was selected Man of the Year by the U.S. Wrestling Foundation in 1981 and received the Red Smith Sports Award in 1992.
He also served as a member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Kiwanis, youth baseball, the Stevens Point Country Club and Hot Shots, and was instrumental in the growth and expansion of the YMCA, his favorite work-out locale. In 1975 he received Stevens Point’s Distinguished Service Award, and was recently honored as one of the community’s 150 Most Notable Citizens.
Survivors include two daughters, Laurie (Ron) Todd, Scottsdale, Ariz., and Kim (Bill) Gural, Fort Meyers Beach, Fla.; one son, Jack (Peggy), East Lansing, Mich.; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
He was also preceded in death by one sister, Noni; two brothers, Hugh and Dean; and one grandson.