WATERLOO, Iowa --- A longtime lawyer and wrestling supporter died Wednesday.
Jay Paul Roberts passed away following a brief illness. He was 69.
Roberts was a place kicker for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes in the early 1960s and also earned letters in wrestling. After obtaining his law degree, he started in private practice in Waterloo in 1968.
"He had a gruff and ruff exterior, and he loved to practice law, but he had the biggest heart of anyone I've ever met," said Carter Stevens, one of the partners at Roberts's firm.
"Everyone knew Jay. He was a character that everyone has stories about. And they are stories that make us chuckle," Stevens said.
Another attorney, Heather Prendergast, saw both sides of Roberts, first when she found herself up against him when she was an assistant county prosecutor and then later when she was a member of his firm, and they were on the same side.
"Really, at his core, he'd give anything to you," she said.
She said he was known for mentoring new lawyers and giving them a hand with their cases.
Roberts started with Swisher & Cohrt and worked there until 1990 when he became a partner at the Beecher law firm. In 1997, he left to start up another practice with Stevens and Kellyann Lekar.
He specialized in civil litigation, family law and workers compensation cases.
Even after leaving the University of Iowa, Roberts was still involved with wrestling and served on a number of boards including the International Wrestling Institute and Museum and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame Board of Governors.
He was in at the ground level of the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Waterloo.
"Jay was always willing to lend his expertise and he was always eager to be involved," Dan Gable, head wrestling coach at the University of Iowa from 1977 to 1997, said in a prepared statement. "Beyond his active help with Iowa wrestling and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame, I consider him a close friend."
He was also active in the Boys & Girls Club, and had been on the organization's board since the 1960s.
Roberts was found Wednesday morning in his Kimball Avenue home after he failed to answer phone calls.
He had been suffering from breathing problems.
Memorials may be made to The Boys & Girls Club or the Dan Gable Wrestling Museum.
Visitation is today at Hagarty Waychoff Funeral Home, 300 W. Ridgeway Ave.
Services will be Monday at Heartland Vineyard Church, 1405 Greenhill Road, Cedar Falls.