Arthur Harrell Roberts, passed away on Sunday, April 18th, at age 89. The son of Arthur Belmont Roberts and Sula Harrell Roberts, he was born in Bainbridge, GA in 1931, and moved to Savannah at age 11. Harrell Roberts was a force to be reckoned with. His larger-than-life personality combined limitless love and fierce loyalty with a wicked sense of humor and a deep, abiding faith. His love of learning provided him with encyclopedic knowledge of a broad range of subjects, and his recall of details was legendary.
Roberts enlisted in the USMC Reserves while still in high school, graduating from Savannah High School in 1949. In August of 1950, only days after his 19th birthday, his unit was called to active duty at the outbreak of the Korean War, and Dog Company boarded the train for California’s Camp Pendleton. With only two weeks training and without the benefit of boot camp, he and his brothers in arms shipped out to Korea. Upon his arrival, he was assigned to George Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Division (G-3-1). Alongside the men of “Bloody George,” the young Marine marched through Hellfire Valley to the Chosin Reservoir. In the -40◦ temperatures of the “frozen Chosin” he was wounded at the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, an engagement that remains the most fierce battle in USMC history. The grueling tour of duty earned him a place in the elite brotherhood of The Chosin Few. He was awarded the Purple Heart and retired from the USMC following a year-long recovery.
Returning to Savannah, he married Betty Durden, the love of his life, and they soon became proud parents to Arthur and Susan. He began a career with the Savannah District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that would span 35-years. From his start as a draftsman, he moved up through the ranks in Civil Engineering before transferring to Operations Division, overseeing dredging operations in Savannah Harbor, Kings Bay and many points in between. He and Betty opened and operated one of the first shops on Savannah’s River Street, where his exceptional woodworking skills earned The River Street Emporium a national reputation.
Retiring from the COE at age 55, Harrell and Betty traveled the world for annual reunions with his fellow Marines and were active members of the Marine Corps League’s Savannah Detachment 564. He served as Commandant of Savannah’s Marine Corps League, and as President of the international G-3-1 Association. Among his many accomplishments was his design and creation of a monument honoring the members of Savannah’s Dog Company, located on Savannah’s East Bay Street, and a monument honoring the G-3-1 Marines killed in Korea, located on Chesty Puller Way at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, Quantico, VA.
Harrell and Betty provided a warm and loving home filled with lively debate, great expectations, and laughter that rattled its windows. The pair continue to be an inspiration, and an example of lives well-lived for their children, and all who knew them. Both were lifetime members of First Baptist Church, and devoted to the church and congregation. For many years, Harrell’s was the first face to greet members and visitors each Sunday morning. He taught Sunday School, served on numerous committees, and as Chairman of both the Board of Deacons and the Brotherhood. He was recently named a Life Deacon.
Preceded in death by his parents and Betty, Harrell is survived by son Arthur Harrell Roberts, Jr. (Donna), of Okatie, SC, daughter Susan Roberts Frampton (Lewis) of Summerville, SC, and beloved granddaughter, Sara Montgomery Frampton (Gillie Croft) of Charleston, SC. The family wishes to express their gratitude for the enduring friendship of Ann Frech, the care of the physicians and staff of Savannah Veterans Clinic, and the Medical University of South Carolina, and the devotion of caregiver Quantina Williams and others.
Visitation will be Wednesday, April 21st from 5 to 7 at Fox and Weeks, 7200 Hodgson Memorial Drive, with a memorial service Thursday, April 22nd at 10 AM, and interment at noon in Beaufort National Cemetery. Remembrances may be made to The Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, or MUSC Hollings Cancer Center’s Melanoma & Skin Cancer Program Fund.
Arthur and Susan, I’m so sorry for your loss. We loved your Dad. He was a lot of fun! We have great memories, don’t we? Praying for y’all. Love Becky
- Becky Anstine Bolt, Savannah , Georgia
So sorry to hear Mr. Roberts passed. I read a number of articles and books involving his military service while serving in the Korean War. Unfortunately a number of people will not have a chance to speak or hear from our greatest generation and heroes. I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity. Prayers for the Roberts family. With love.
- Don and Kathy Hodge, Summerville, SC
What a great man. I never got tired talking with him about George Company and his experience in the frozen Chosin. He will be missed.
- Bob Longueira , Savannah , Georgia
Harrell was a true gentleman and a proud Marine. It was an honor to know him. May God’s peace and your happy and loving memories carry you through this sorrowful time.
- Rosemary Longueira , Savannah, GA
So sorry to hear of your father's passing! He has always had a special place in our hearts. Semper Fi and RIP Mr. Roberts!
- Fran and Glenn Arnsdorff, Savannah, Georgia
Arthur and Donna, So very sorry for your loss. Our thoughts are with you. Jack and Susan Hudson
- Susan Hudson, Okatie, SC
Arthur and Susan Holly & I are so sorry for your loss. Your Dad was a great man and I enjoyed his laughter and stories so very much. He will be sorely missed by everyone
- Charles George, fernandina Beach, Florida
Susan, Lewis, Sara, Arthur and Donna, What a joy it has been to be considered friends of Harrell and Betty Roberts, for over twenty short years. The fun we had with the Marines and spouses was beyond measure. Never a dull moment, never a cross word, never rudeness, only love and devotion to each member. I definitely miss those gone before us, but the memories will be remain in my heart forever. My love and prayers are with each of you as you journey through the next few days and will always be considered family.
- Faye Anderson , Pooler , Georgia
May he rest in peace. Thank you for your service to our country. By Gregg L. Friedman MD
- Gregg L. Friedman MD, Hallandale Beach, Florida
Class Mate, Special Person., One of a Kind. Semp Fi
- Ann Taylor, Pooler,, Ga.
We will really miss your Dad and all of the memories that he created for us . He was a force of Nature indeed! Loved the memories from Troop 35 at First Baptist and all of the camp outs. Of course a few stories were always involved but always remember his kindness and explanations of why my brother and I shouldnt be doing something (which was quite frequent- like most of the time. ) . One of many good men who served their Church and country from that generation. My Dad , CM Waldrop will miss him and his presence as a friend of many years. Semper Fi Harrell
- Cynthia W. Waldrop, MIDWAY, GA
Arthur and Susan, my deepest condolences on the loss of your extraordinary Dad. Growing up next door to your family remains one of the highlights of all the Whalen Kids' childhood memories. Your parents were my surrogate grandparents, and I cannot count how many times they helped me throughout my life. The Whalen Family will be forever grateful to have known the love, generosity, and kindness of your Dad, and I will miss my beloved "Mr. Roberts." Your families are in my prayers.
- Mary Beth Whalen Janda, Marietta, GA
What a joy it was to know Harrold! One of my first friends at the COE. Always willing to help - as well as trick you! I won't eat Chinese mustard to this day because of Harrold. His laughter was contagious. His humor endless. Shortly after I started at the COE I bought a radio for my car. Your dad took his Saturday to help me install it - in y'alls car port. A gentleman through and through. Harrold, you will truly be missed. See you on the other side friend. Mickey Johnson
- Mickey Johnson , Fort Mill , SC
To Harrell’s family, It goes without saying that your Dad lit up any room he entered. He was a “knight in shining armor” what ever the task. We are all inspired by knowing him and will miss him dearly. His family was his source of strength and he loved you so!!!! May we all joyfully celebrate the fantastical life that he lived. And oh, how he lived!!!
- Frampton, Greenville, SC
Harrell was one of my best friends in high school and afterwards. He lived in Tattnall Homes and I lived in Pine Gardens and rode the school bus to and from SHS. He was instrumental in my getting a job at the US Corps of Engineers while I was struggling to pay my way through college. After graduating and moving to North Carolina, my wife and I would be sure to see Betty and him when we visited. He was an inspiration to me to keep going to college. I had planned to visit him on my next visit to Savannah, but that will never happen now. However, we will get together again in Heaven some day my faithful friend. Herbie Smith
- Herbert Smith, Greensboro, NC
Susan and Arthur, We are so sorry to hear about Harrell. He was always so full of life. May the grace of God carry you through this difficult time.
- Linnie and Randy Gilliam, Lexington, SC
Arthur and Susan, upon hearing of "Mr. Roberts" passing this morning, I am filled with wonderful lifetime memories of living next door to such an incredible family. Mr. Roberts provided me an unparalleled education in life lessons, military history lessons, and was always their to provide grandfatherly advice, wisdom, experience, and knowledge. I will greatly miss our fireside ("fence side") chats. His fierce loyalty to any and all subjects and causes will live on in all of us that were fortunate enough to know him. Godspeed.
- Charlie Whalen, Athens, GA
Arthur and Susan, I’m very sad to hear of your dad’s passing. Having been my parent’s next-door neighborhood for over 55 years, he was a very special person in my life. My earliest memory as a child is him congratulating me on my 4th birthday across the backyard fence. When I purchased a manual shift car that I couldn’t get out the driveway, he took me to the high school lot and taught me how to drive it. He was always a part of our lives, more like family than just a neighbor. I feel privileged to have grown up next to your family. He will remain in my memory, may he rest in peace.
- Stephen Whalen, Avondale Estates, Georgia
Deepest condolences to the entire Roberts family.I didn’t know him but my spouse Bill Roberts who was a member and worked at First Baptist did and spoke highly of Mr.Roberts. Prayers for Arthur and Susan as you go through this most difficult time.
- Lance Ramsey-Roberts, Savannah, Georgia
Arthur, Susan, Donna, Louie and Sara our prayers are with you during this difficult time. I have many fond memories of Uncle Harrell that I will keep with me allows. I recall him taking me to Hutchinson Island and searching for shark's teeth, hours of shooting pellet pistols in his backyard and watching him do woodwork in his shop. As a kid I remember Uncle Harrell as almost a mythical character, a larger than life presence, a hand shake that you had to prepare for, stories that were so amazing that it seems there was no way they could be real and the unescapable grip of that wounded hand! I remember the River Street Emporium (no cooler place for a kid) and Uncle Harrell giving me flattened pennies and geodes. Uncle Harrell and the Geodes formed under intense heat and pressure early in their formation and like the speaker said yesterday a few months that shaped the remainder of his life. I will miss Uncle Harrell, the geode, tough on the outside, extraordinary on the inside.
- Barry & Debra Mitchell, Rincon, Georgia
Services under the direction of:
Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel
- 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Wed, April 21, 2021
- Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel
7200 Hodgson Memorial Drive (map)
Savannah GA 31406
- Funeral Service
- 10:00 a.m. on Thu, April 22, 2021
- Fox & Weeks Funeral Directors, Hodgson Chapel
7200 Hodgson Memorial Drive (map)
Savannah GA 31406
- 12:00 p.m. on Thu, April 22, 2021
- Beaufort National Cemetery
1601 Boundary Street (map)
Beaufort SC 29902