Robert James

Obituary Reports the death of an individual, providing an account of the person’s life including their achievements, any controversies in which they were involved, and reminiscences by people who knew them.

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Robert James

Robert Gregory James of Stamford, Conn. and formerly of Chappaqua passed peacefully on Jan. 21 at age 98.

Born in Ord, Neb. in 1925, he was the ninth and youngest child of Earnest James and Cora Gregory. He graduated from Ord High School in 1943, entered the V-5 Navy College Training Program, where he studied at Doane College in Crete, Neb. and the University of Nebraska, and served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946.

After his active-duty service, he transferred to Northwestern University, receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1946. He joined the Naval Reserves, retiring as a rear admiral in the Naval Supply Corps in 1981, where he was awarded the Legion of Merit.

He entered Harvard Business School, graduating as a Baker Scholar in 1948.  While there, he married the love of his life, Ardis Butler, and they lived together happily until her death in 2011. He graduated from Harvard University with a doctorate in economics in 1953, and taught finance and accounting as one of the first professors at the Sloan School at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

James served at the CIA as a branch chief dealing with trade and finance intelligence on the Soviet Bloc and China. He worked at Continental Oil in Houston and Mobil Oil Company in New York as a specialist in supply, distribution and logistics. In 1969, he became president and managing director of Enterprise Development Associates in New York City, a private joint venture specializing in shopping center development and management. He retired from Enterprise in 2018.

After decades as avid collectors of quilts from the U.S. and around the world, James and his beloved wife, Ardis, founded the International Quilt Museum in Lincoln Neb., a legacy he was very proud of.

He and Ardis were longtime members of the Presbyterian Church of Mount Kisco. He was an active squash player, skier and gardener throughout his life. James was engaged in world affairs for his entire professional career, serving on the board of directors of Citizens Exchange Council, Council for Defense Information and Helsinki Watch. Although he had many professional accomplishments, Bob was most proud of his family and his Nebraska roots.

He is survived by his daughter, Catherine (Louis) Paglia, of Greenwich, Conn.; his son, Ralph (Janice) James, of Swampscott, Mass.; grandchildren Gregory James, Katherine James, Rebecca James, Samuel Paglia and Helen Paglia; and seven great-grandchildren. He was predeceased in death by his son, Robert Gregory James Jr., and his wife, Ardis Butler James. Services will be private.

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