92-year-old Napa man literally builds a better Bay Area with 73rd playground

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- As part of our commitment to Building a Better Bay Area, we want to highlight a gentleman who is literally building a better Bay Area.

Don't let appearances fool you about the seasoned citizen who likes to visit parks, who can measure his accomplishments by watching little kids trying to tear up a playground.

"See, they're laughing," said Jim Roberts. He's a Napa treasure, and the man most responsible for building 73 playgrounds around the region after Saturday.

"It's pretty crazy. I thought I would do one playground, then. Now we're at 73...74 next month."

"But who's counting?"

RELATED: Palo Alto plans for new playground to accommodate people of all ages and abilities

"Yeah," Roberts laughed.

At 92 years old, numbers don't much impress him. It is not as if Roberts went looking for playgrounds---more like the other way around. In 1998, he heard of a little girl who fell from a piece of equipment, hit her head, and suffered a concussion.

Though he never met her or even knows her name he said that wasn't going to happen again.

"Well it shouldn't happen," said Roberts. "A playground should not only be fun, but safe, and this was not safe."

So began Roberts' campaign with the Kiwanis Club to bring in volunteers to cut down the cost of labor. Roberts' home is his office, surrounded by pictures of his high school sweetheart and wife, with whom he raised four children.

"What makes him go?," we asked Gary Lehman, who has worked with Roberts for two decades.

"Life. He's a happy man."

And forever, young at heart, it seems. When volunteers arrive early Saturday morning, they won't just be building a playground. They'll be working with a force of nature. One man making a difference, leaving a legacy to generations.

"I didn't know growing old at 92 would make me a legend! Ha! That's funny!"

Copyright © 2022 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.