In Memoriam: James F. Roth (1925–2021)

James F. Roth of Warmin­ster, PA, died on his 96th birth­day, Decem­ber 7, 2021.

Born in Rah­way, NJ, Jim was a mem­ber of the first grad­u­at­ing class of the Bronx High School of Sci­ence, grad­u­at­ing at age 15. He enlist­ed in the Navy at 17 and was sent to school at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia and then Mid­ship­man School at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty. While Jim was serv­ing as chief nav­i­ga­tor on LST 477 dur­ing the bat­tle of Iwo Jima, the ship was blast­ed with a 500 lb. bomb and hit by a Kamikaze plane.

After being dis­charged from the Navy with the rank of LTJG, Jim returned to col­lege, earn­ing a B.S. in Phys­i­cal Chem­istry from the Uni­ver­si­ty of West Vir­ginia and a PhD from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Mary­land.

Dur­ing his career with Mon­san­to in St. Louis, MO, and Air Prod­ucts in Allen­town, PA, where he served as chief sci­en­tist and direc­tor of cor­po­rate research, Jim received recog­ni­tion for his achieve­ments as the prin­ci­pal inven­tor of process­es for the com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of acetic acid and the pro­duc­tion of lin­ear olefins used to make biodegrad­able deter­gents. He received numer­ous awards, includ­ing the Kokes Award from Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty, the Houdry Award from the Catal­y­sis Soci­ety of North Amer­i­ca, and the Indus­tri­al and Engi­neer­ing Chem­istry Award from the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety. He received the first award ever giv­en by the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety for Achieve­ment in Indus­tri­al Chem­istry. He was induct­ed into the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Engi­neer­ing and was cit­ed by the Chem­i­cal Her­itage Foun­da­tion as one of the lead­ing Amer­i­can chemists of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. Jim was the 1988 recip­i­ent of the Perkin Medal for his achieve­ments in cat­alyt­ic research, con­sid­ered the high­est recog­ni­tion for chem­i­cal achieve­ments in the U.S.

When he wasn’t work­ing, he and his wife Sharon (Mattes) Roth shared a 52-year adven­ture of world trav­el, sym­phonies, muse­ums, opera, and fine din­ing. They spent their first 18 years of retire­ment in Sara­so­ta, FL, and the next 14 years in inde­pen­dent senior adult com­mu­ni­ties in Dal­las, TX, and Warmin­ster, PA. Jim was lov­ing­ly cared for in his final year by his wife Sharon and care­giv­er Daion­na Combs.

He is sur­vived by his wife; daugh­ter, Sandy Free­man (Mick­ey) of Allen­town; sons Ed Roth (Sue) of New City, NY and Lar­ry Roth (Colleen) of St. Louis, MO; step-son Ladd Hirsch (Cindy), 10 grand­chil­dren; and 8 great-grand­chil­dren. He was pre­de­ceased by his step-daugh­ter, Lisa Phillips (Jim), and his sis­ter, Phyl­lis Davis.

To plant or send flow­ers to the fam­i­ly in mem­o­ry of James Roth, please vis­it our flower store.