The Life and Love of Robert Deadwyler
Present with the Lord: March 6, 2013
By Sue Ella Deadwyler
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At my request, fully mounted tires and wheels were added to Robert’s casket. It was unusual, but very appropriate. Robert was one of a kind and I was delighted when the funeral director agreed to make his home-going as mischievous as he was.
I had often said, “Robert, when you get to Heaven and find there are no cars, you’ll ask for a transfer.” He never denied it, so for visiting time his casket was modified with tires and wheels, which were removed before the funeral began. With that, Robert’s brand of fun was added to a sad situation. Everyone enjoyed the levity and declared, “That’s Robert!”
You might have heard Robert say, “I like to have fun and I’m going to have fun,” because he said it so often. He meant what he said and that’s what he did. He kidded wherever he was and, if you ever met him, you probably kidded WITH him. He enjoyed people and people enjoyed him.
He was a southern gentleman who’d rather hug the women than shake their hands. If we were in a crowd, I’d always find Robert with a group of women. In fact, he had a unique ministry with the widowed women in one of my Sunday school classes of mature ladies. Week after week, I had noticed how much those hugs meant to the ladies who, most likely, hadn’t had a hug all week. So, the hug line on Sunday morning was Robert’s unofficial faithful ministry to wonderful ladies who needed it most!
But, Robert wasn’t born a full-grown lady-hugging Christian man. He was born in Atlanta, Georgia on March 3 and celebrated his last birthday three days before he died March 6, 2013. His birth year was his forward gear (he’d like that analogy) that kicked in to bring him onto earth and this month his reverse gear kicked in to transport him into Heaven to meet his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Though that was a great day for Robert, it was the saddest day of my life, which has been irretrievably reversed.
Before all that happened, Robert had a full and meaningful life filled with as much fun as he could manage. His mom and dad were Ralph Campbell Deadwyler who married Nellie Laura Greene. Together they produced Robert and his baby sister Gloria Jane, who grew up to become the bride of Bernard Anthony “Bud” Flatley.
Soon Robert was old enough to go to school and always enjoyed telling the story about the little girl who sat in front of him. You might not realize it in this technological age, but back in “the day,” inkwells on the desk got many a boy in trouble and you guessed it! With such temptation, it was inevitable that a pigtail found its way into the ink. It was great fun, until the little girl screeched and the teacher lowered the boom on sweet little Robert. I think he mentioned something about a dunce cap in a corner.
However, he DID mature enough to be on the yearbook staff in high school, where he joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) and soon became Cadet Major Robert Deadwyler, second in command as Battalion Executive Officer. For special ceremonies, I was his sponsor, because I was his high school sweetheart. One of his duties was to train the other cadets to march in cadence. Just last year, one of those cadets, grown up a bit himself since then, told Robert how good he was as an instructor, but those boys just couldn’t seem to “get it.” He was awarded a Military Training Certificate for completing the prescribed course of instruction in the Junior Division Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
But, let me back up a bit. R.O.T.C. was a natural choice for Robert. As a junior at Roosevelt High School, Robert had enlisted in the Service Company, 122nd Infantry, Georgia National Guard. At the end of that four-year term, having reached the rank of private first class, he was awarded an honorable discharge; reenlisted for another three years; earned the rank of Sgt. E-5; and was honorably discharged again. Soon, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve and attained the rank of sergeant first class within a few months. Subsequent enlistments resulted in three additional honorable discharges.
Robert and I married within months of our high school graduations. Our two children, Robert Daniel and Ginger Sue were loved and loving. The children of Dan and Sandra Patrice are our grandchildren – Amanda Cheree, Robert Daniel, Jr. and Chris Bailey.
Robert loved the Lord and his family, but they weren’t his only love. His natural mechanical engineering talent, that allowed him to drive or fix or modify or repair or improve or invent (if necessary) practically anything, guided him into another love – the automotive field – where he worked briefly with an auto repair shop, drove a gasoline tanker-truck for Texaco, but was soon moved into the Texaco Bulk Plant office in Doraville. From there, Texaco transferred him to North Carolina to manage the bulk plant in Paw Creek. Eight years later, upon Robert’s request, Texaco transferred him back to the Atlanta corporate office as an accountant and in that position he took early retirement to avoid a departmental transfer to Texas.
Soon, he and a friend established Auto Parts Mart in Cumming. Later, Robert became sole owner and changed the name to Robert’s Auto Parts. Is there any doubt what he sold there? After selling that business, he worked with other auto parts companies – always becoming a part of management – including Genuine Parts Company (NAPA) in Norcross, from which he retired a second time as assistant manager of the Main Branch. After several months of retirement, he returned to work part-time at a NAPA store closer to home. Not only did Robert have a passion for automotive vehicles, he loved the parts that made them work!
As a NASCAR fan, he was thrilled to get a pass from NAPA so he could visit the pit and have up-front-and-personal access to pit crews, drivers and all the intricacies of an Atlanta Speedway Race.
Robert loved showing his classic metallic midnight blue Ford Mustang and, rightly so. He had restored it to a pristine condition with most of its original parts and pieces. It (the car), obediently and quickly, earned several trophies at car shows. He restored his Dad’s 1969 Chevrolet Impala and was thrilled to win a trophy the first time he showed it. Actually, it won the children’s trophy, because the children selected the Impala as their favorite of the show and that trophy was ’way taller than all the others. He was so proud!
Last fall, Robert sold his Mustang and bought a gold-metallic magnetic red (a beautiful dark red) 1999 Corvette. He planned to enter it in the Norcross Car Show this spring. Incidentally, most metallic paints contain flecks of silver, but Robert’s Corvette has gold metallic, a special tribute for my husband who had a heart of gold!
Appropriately, he will be buried in a midnight blue casket with gold pin stripes (color of the Mustang and his Chevy van) and, for fun-loving, car-loving Robert the casket might have wheels on it. The funeral director said they’d never had a request like that before, but it would be done. I can’t wait to see it! When the Lord created Robert, he made him uniquely gifted, loving and loved. He will be sorely missed and his leaving has left an un-mendable void in my heart and life! He was my man and I loved him with all my being! I trust Robert found his mom and dad and my mom and dad in Heaven right after he was greeted by the Lord Jesus Himself!
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