Fort Worth, Texas - John Vinson Roach II passed away peacefully early Sunday morning, March 20, surrounded by family. He was 83.
Family and friends will gather from 5 to 7 pm Thursday in the Great Room at Robertson Mueller Harper. A Celebration of His Life will be held at 3 pm Friday in the Sanctuary at University Christian Church, 2720 S. University Drive. He will be laid to rest privately in Greenwood Memorial Park
John was born in Stamford, TX, the son of a small-town grocer and a dedicated nurse. Early in life, he learned the challenges and joys of running a business and the value of hard work. As a result, John Roach built a life and legacy that honored his four great loves: business, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth and most importantly, his beloved wife Jean and their family.
In 1942, John and his parents, John Vinson Roach and Agnes Margaret Hanson Roach, moved to the Riverside neighborhood of Fort Worth. John credited his work ethic to his family upbringing, particularly his mother. He began his career working at the family grocery store and became involved in the communications industry at an early age – by delivering newspapers on his bicycle.
After graduation from Carter Riverside High School, John matriculated at TCU, graduating with a BA in math and physics in 1961 and an MBA in 1965. As an undergraduate, he worked at several jobs, mostly entailing manual labor. Of lifetime significance, he joined Sigma Chi Fraternity and met his future wife, Barbara Jean Wiggin. The two would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this March 31, 2022.
The newlyweds moved to Oxnard, CA where John worked at the Pacific Missile Test Center. However, Texas called, and they returned to Fort Worth, where John joined Tandy Corp as the data processing manager. He led the product development team, which resulted in one of the most successful product launches in consumer electronics history – the TRS-80. This visionary move launched the era of personal home computing by creating a market that didn't exist and making in-home computers available to consumers at RadioShack retail stores. Bill Gates and Paul Allen were hired to write the code for the TRS-80.
John would further cement his status as a consumer communications and electronics legend by selling handheld computers – also known as cellular phones - in RadioShack stores. He was appointed Tandy Corp President in 1980 and Chairman in 1982. He was deemed "best of the best" by Financial World in 1982, and his specialized RadioShack Computer Centers earned a "Hall of Fame" from Consumer's Digest in 1985. His "can do" work ethic earned John the Horatio Alger Award in 1990. His efforts in business and the community earned him many awards including the Golden Deeds Outstanding Citizen Award from the Exchange Club, the Significant Sig Award, Texas Business Hall of Fame and Business Leader of the Year from Georgetown University in 1987.
He wanted to ensure that others had the same opportunities he had, and in 1988 he established the Tandy Scholars program to support science and math students and teachers. John said of this effort, "I wanted to do something that would help America be more competitive tomorrow in a world where technology is a major driving force." He retired from Tandy at the age of 60, but he never stopped advocating for the companies, non-profits and organizations he championed.
In his retirement he never stopped working. John managed his own business interests and served as an interim CEO of Justin Industries, ultimately negotiating the company's sale to Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway. Justin Industries was the first of three local businesses he aligned under Berkshire Hathaway. He was very proud to have established the Executive Round Table of Fort Worth, which brought together influential chief executives and business leaders to achieve collaborative good for the community. John continued his passion for education by remaining very involved with TCU, Fort Worth Country Day and KinderFrogs School at TCU.
John Roach loved TCU and Fort Worth. His perspective was that almost always, what was good for the city was also good for TCU. He served as a dedicated TCU Trustee beginning in 1981 and was highly involved for the remainder of his life. He held the office of Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 1990-2005 – a time of tremendous growth for the University - and continued as an Emeritus Trustee, never missing a meeting. During his tenure, the University doubled its endowment, transitioned through three chancellors and found itself adrift when the Southwest Conference broke up. John's Committee of 100 – a partnership between business leaders and TCU to promote athletics – was one of the first concrete steps taken that began a sustained commitment to athletic excellence. The effort led to TCU's historic Rose Bowl win after the 2011 season. For his service, John received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 1984, and he and Jean received the Royal Purple Award in 1997. In 2001, he was nationally recognized by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges with the Distinguished Service Award in Trusteeship.
His dear friends Judy and Paul Andrews provided the naming gift for the John V. Roach Honors College, paying tribute to their friend. His contributions to TCU include the endowed John V. Roach Dean of the Neeley School of Business, the John V. Roach Scholarship and Special Scholarships, the renovation of Frog Fountain, The Roach Family Plaza at the Neeley School of Business, and the Roach Foundation Economics Colloquium Fund.
His greatest love, though, was family. Jean and John raised two lovely and capable daughters Amy Elizabeth and Lori Anne. John designed the family beach house in Florida which served as a gathering point for friends and family. He enjoyed planning annual family vacations that were designed to expand the family's knowledge of the United States, create memories and encourage togetherness. These trips were legendary.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Agnes and Vince, and his stepfather, James Irving Moudy.
In addition to his beloved Jean, John is survived by his daughters, Amy Roach Bailey and her husband, Tull, and Lori Roach Davis and her husband Craig; Amy and Tull's children, John and James Callaway, Hannah Bailey and her fiancé, Clark Sheats, Emily Bailey Christie and her husband Patrick; and great granddaughter, Claire Christie; Lori and Craig's children, Dylan and Emily; and 50-year career associate Lou Ann Blaylock.
Memorials may be made to John V. Roach Honors College at TCU or your charity of choice.