Robert “Bob” Scott James of Westwood Hills.
When and how he died:
Jan. 30 of pancreatic cancer at age 75.
Leaving his mark:
If you’ve ever been to Kansas City International Airport or the Bartle Hall expansion, you’ve seen some of Bob James’ handiwork. A civil engineer with a master’s degree in construction management, Bob worked on both projects during a 47-year career.
He earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas and a graduate degree from the University of Missouri. He began his career with the Federal Aviation Administration and later worked with several Kansas City architectural firms, including Kivett and Myers and his firm, Devine James Labinski Myers.
One of his career stops was with BNIM, where he knew principal Tom Nelson. After returning from an overseas assignment in the 1980s, Bob sought a meeting with Tom.
“He came to see me and asked me to give him the job of director of technical services for our firm,” Tom said. “I jumped at the chance. He did a memorable job for us.”
Tom said Bob was meticulous and demanding in a good way. Bob mentored many younger employees as well as seasoned partners, including Tom, and left a lasting impression.
“He really conveyed the importance of getting it right the first time,” Tom said. “Technically, I was his boss but it never felt that way. He was a friend and a colleague. Everyone said what a wonderful guy he was.”
Bob retired in 2006.
Bob enjoyed travel and socializing. After his wife died, Bob decided to take a driving trip west to see family. He called Pat Hogan, a friend of the Scotts who had moved to Arizona. Her husband had died just days before Bob’s wife.
“Bob asked if he could drop by and I said yes,” Pat said. “It went from there. We just hit it off. We knew each other’s families well and we were lonely.”
Pat moved back to Kansas City to be with Bob, although they would spend January and February in Tucson. The two enjoyed theater and traveling. They went to Europe several times to visit Pat’s grandchildren in Berlin. Their last trip was a river cruise, which Bob thoroughly enjoyed, Pat said.
Bob also enjoyed spending time at a family cabin in Minnesota and would take one of his stepsons along to work the place. Bob was very organized, and his workbench even reflected that characteristic.
“Everything had a label, and he made lists with little boxes next to the items that he would check off as he completed the task,” Pat said.
When rabbits started to eat herbs in Pat’s garden, Bob built a movable chicken-wire fence that could be lifted to reach the herbs and placed back down to thwart the rabbits.
An avid reader, Bob liked fiction as well as history, especially the Civil War. He enjoyed cooking, including barbecuing. And he had a knack for storytelling.
“He would tell me a story every night, and it would be one I had never heard before,” Pat said.
Bob spent time with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren when he could.
“He thought he was much too young to be a great-grandfather,” Pat said.
his companion, two sons and two stepsons and their wives, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.
Final thought: “He was a devoted friend and a loving family man,” Pat said.