Jim Robertson graduated from La Porte City High School in May of 1954. He attended the University of Northern Iowa, then known as Iowa State Teachers College. In June of 1959 he graduated from the University of Iowa with a law degree and was admitted to the bar a week later. Along the way he participated in study programs at the University of Denver, Ashridge College (a private college 30 miles outside of London), Oxford and the University of Vienna. L. J. Robertson, Jim’s father, opened his law office in 1932 in La Porte City, his home town. Jim joined him in his practice and their partnership continued until1986 when L.J. passed away. Jim then practiced alone until his retirement later this month.
Jim was asked to join the Board of Directors of the La Porte City Telephone Co. in 1964 as a director, officer and attorney. This began his long association with the telecommunication industry.
In 1983 cellular telephone came into being. Eleven companies formed a partnership and obtained the cellular license for five counties in Northeast Central Iowa known as RSA 11. They elected Jim as President. Leading a diverse group of partners in a new company providing a new and unfamiliar technology proved challenging. The hardest part of Jim’s job at RSA 11 was holding the partnership together as the partners often had different ideas and goals. He arranged numerous buy-outs, mergers, addition of new partners and financing.
US West determined in 1996 they no longer wanted to provide telephone service to the smaller towns and rural Iowa. They decided to sell those exchanges and the related rural areas. A group of independent telephone companies formed a corporation to buy the US West properties in Clayton County, including Elkader, Guttenberg, Marquette, McGregor, some smaller exchanges and their associated rural areas for $20,000,000. Jim was elected president of this new company called Alpine Communications. Alpine had more than 6,000 subscribers, about four times the size of La Porte City Telephone Co., and one of the largest independent telephone companies in Iowa. La Porte City Telephone Co. was one of the investors. Negotiating the purchase terms, completing the transfer, arranging financing, hiring employees and setting up accounting and billing systems was a complicated process. Fortunately, the job was made easier by a board of experienced telephone managers. Alpine now provides telephone, Internet and Fiber Cable TV in its territory. In 2010 Jim resigned as the President of Alpine but remained on the Board of Directors.
Jim continued as President of La Porte City Telephone Co. which had been active over the years in upgrading its service and facilities, and had become a totally fiber-optic company with Fusion TV and ultra high-speed Internet. He will continue his longtime association with the La Porte City Telephone Co. although he is retiring from his law practice as of December 31.
The practice of law and his association with the communications industry has proved to be a varied and interesting career. Wills, estates and taxes have always been at the forefront of his legal career. Jim is pleased to have made so many friends through his practice. He says, “The thing I will miss most is my contact with my clients, who I consider friends as well.”
He has found time for some other interests, however. He became a licensed pilot in 1968, a certified scuba diver in 1972, and in 1981 received a Charter Recommendation to charter any boat up to 45 feet. He and his wife have done bareboat chartering numerous times in the Caribbean. Of course, the interest in gardening he inherited from his grandmother has continued through the years and he even built his own small green house.
Jim and Jeanene also enjoyed travel. He and Jeanene traveled extensively in the United States by private plane and commercial flights, making numerous trips to Florida and elsewhere. They also rented a power boat and traveled the Inter-Coastal Waterway in Florida, a sailboat in The Virgin Islands and a long boat to travel the canals of England. They visited South America, the Panama Canal, Mexico, Africa, Costa Rica, Tahiti, Australia, New Zealand, and China, as well as numerous European countries.
None of this would have been possible without the help of friends and family. Jim and his wife, Jeanene, have four children and nine grandchildren. Jim’s daughter, Susan, a fifth generation Robertson in La Porte City, has been a constant help throughout the years. Ria Clark has worked in the office for 40 years as an invaluable assistant whose hard work and skills have made everything successful.
He is now looking forward to a less hectic schedule as he remains active as President of LPC Connect and keeps up with the ever-changing world of telecommunications.