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HomeObituariesOBITUARY: James Daniel Richardson 'D.R.' Roberts Sr.

OBITUARY: James Daniel Richardson ‘D.R.’ Roberts Sr.

Brigadier General (retired) James Daniel Richardson “D.R.” Roberts, Sr., former Wing Commander, 118th Airlift Wing, Tennessee Air National Guard, passed away on August 5th at the age of 94.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Bradford Earl and Annie Byrn Roberts, his sister Anne Byrn Roberts, and his brother Bradford Earl Roberts, Jr.

Jim Rich is survived by his wife of sixty-five years, Mary McCarty Roberts, and his children Deborah Roberts Horst, Mary Roberts McMakin (husband Tom), and James Daniel Richardson Roberts Jr.(wife Kate), his beloved grandchildren Madeline Horst Bland (Jay), Corporal Samuel Horst, USMC, Valerie and Wilson McMakin, and Grace, James and Lily Roberts, and his great-grandson Jack Bland. As well, he has seven nieces and nephews, and nine great nieces and nephews.

He was a life-long resident of Murfreesboro, and a descendant and namesake of James Daniel Richardson, who represented Murfreesboro in Congress from 1885 through 1905. Jim Rich attended the MTSC Training School (now known as the Campus School), graduated from Castle Heights Military Academy in Lebanon, and attended Vanderbilt University, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

He joined the newly formed US Air Force in 1947 and traveled the world on assignment as well. He left the Air Force after four years to return to Murfreesboro and run the family business, the Roberts Coal Company, but the lure of flying was great and he joined the Tennessee Air National Guard 118th Airlift Wing as a Reservist first, then full time in 1956 and retired as a Brigadier General in 1986 after thirty years of service.

Highlights of his military career include flying F-84s in the Korean Conflict, witnessing a test detonation of an atomic bomb, flying C-130s in the Vietnam War, and welcoming Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan to Nashville when Air Force One arrived at Berry Field. After retirement from the military, he had a consulting practice for several years, with many notable clients including Martin Marietta, Northrup Grumman and Lockheed.

Jim Rich believed in giving back and was a valued member of the Murfreesboro community. He and his wife Carty were early supporters and patrons of the Murfreesboro Little Theater and the Ugly Duckling Ball. He also worked actively with Dr. Robert Sanders, a classmate at Castle Heights known as “Dr. Seatbelt” to help secure the passage of Tennessee’s Child Passenger Protection Act in 1977. With this Act, Tennessee became the first state to require child passenger seats for children.

He was an active supporter of Oaklands Mansion, which was owned at one point by his grandparents Riley Bradford and Jenny Roberts. He was also a member of the Central Christian Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Oaklands Association or the Central Christian Church.

Visitation with the family will be Saturday, August 27, 2022, at Woodfin Memorial Chapel from 10:00 a.m. until the time of a memorial service beginning at 11:00 a.m. An online guestbook is available for the Roberts family at


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Jennifer Haley
Jennifer Haley
Growing up in rural Upstate New York, Jennifer has always enjoyed the simple pleasures in life. She is an outspoken advocate for animal rights and has opened her home to many rescues over the years. In her spare time, she enjoys antiquing, hiking, and gardening.