James D. Roberts, a longtime Shawnee firefighter and former fire chief who retired from the city in 2001, was killed in a crash Friday morning along Interstate 40 in Midwest City.

James D. Roberts, a longtime Shawnee firefighter and former fire chief who retired from the city in 2001, was killed in a crash Friday morning along Interstate 40 in Midwest City.

That accident occurred about 10:01 a.m. in the westbound lanes near Douglas Boulevard. Roberts, 60, of Shawnee, was driving a 2007 Ford F-150, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports.

Roberts, who started working at the Shawnee Fire Department in 1980, served seven years of his career as the city's fire chief and served in other capacities, including emergency management and in human resources. He retired from the city in August 2001.

Many fellow firefighters were remembering him Friday.

Current Shawnee Fire Chief Dru Tischer said Roberts was the chief who hired him early on in his career. Tischer credits Roberts for being a “progressive” chief responsible for many of the policies and advancements the department made, many of which are still in use today.

“The progress our department made while he was chief is remarkable,” Tischer said, adding that Roberts cared for firefighters and made sure they had the equipment and training they needed to do the job.

“He was just an all-around good guy — a good chief,” Tischer said. “This is big loss.”

Shawnee Emergency Management Director Don Lynch also was hired by Roberts.

“I always thought a lot of James... he worked very hard to improve conditions at the fire department and for all of the city,” Lynch said. “He was always caring and dedicated.”

Retired Battalion Chief Curt Lamastus, who joined the department in 1986, said Roberts was his mentor in the fire service.

In addition to his years in the fire service and working for the city of Shawnee, Roberts was serving in the military and worked in the Pentagon for many years after he retired from the city of Shawnee.

To read more about Roberts, watch for the full story in Saturday's News-Star and for more updates to this story online.