July 18, 1920-January 2, 2014
Roberts L. Bodden was born in Pascagoula, MS on July 18, 1920. He passed away from this life on Thursday, January 2, 2014. He was a member of Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church, where he served on the Parish Council. He also served on the Parish Council at St. Mary's Catholic Church.
He was preceded in death by the love of his life Mathilde Delmas Bodden, his parents, Capt. W.L. and Norma Bodden, grandparents, Capt. Richard L. and Ellen Ally Bodden, Capt. T.R. and Capelona Ann Bodden; brothers, William Thomas and Sue Bodden, Alf Griffin and Lucille Bodden and Hugh G. Bodden. He is survived by a brother, Max M. Bodden; nephew and niece, Tommy, Carolyn, and Midge Bodden.
Roberts married Mathilde Delmas on October 6, 1946 with whom he shared a long happy marriage. They weren't blessed with children of their own, but were always bragging about their numerous loving and caring nieces and nephews, as well as grand nieces and nephews- Norma Sue Byrd, Hugh and Udean Bodden, Bill and Kathy Allen, Alf Jr. and Betty Bodden, Gene and Lynn Bodden, Jean Bolze, Gwen and Mark Pepe', and John Riley.
Roberts graduated from Pascagoula High School, where he was very active in all sports. He was Co-Captain of the 1939 Championship Football Team and received a football scholarship to Perkinston Junior College. Roberts was employed at Ingalls Shipyard as a cable puller until he was called to active duty in the United States Navy in December 1941. He served in the American Atlantic, and Pacific Theaters. His honorary discharge was in March of 1946, but he was re-called into active duty during the Korean Conflict.
The Master Shipbuilder worked at Ingalls Shipyard and advanced from Cable Puller to General Electrical Superintendent with a seniority of 46 years. He was appointed to serve two four-year terms on the Pascagoula Port Authority. He also served all Chairs in the BPOE Elks Lodge 1120, including the Exalted Ruler and Trustee for five years. His civic involvement also included three terms as the Advisory Member to the Vocational Technical School at MS Gulf Coast Junior College. In addition, he served as Recording Secretary and President of the IBEW Local 733. He was a Charter Member of the American Society of Naval Engineers Local Section # 7, Pascagoula Area.
The Pascagoula native loved the Lake Avenue area of Pascagoula where he was born, raised and lived. He called it God's Country. Representing that section of town, stopping the building of an apartment complex and was he instrumental in getting a city park in its place, now known as Pine Street Park.
In 1963, he began a long, distinguished career of service with Ingalls Employees Credit Union, now known as Navigator Credit Union. From 1963 to 1983 he was a familiar face to members applying for loans who met with the Credit Committee in the days prior to a Loan Department.
During his 20 years as a Credit Committee volunteer, where he served as Chairman from 1971 to 1983, he dedicated thousands of hours reviewing, approving and providing counseling to credit union members for tens of thousands of loans during twice weekly meetings at a time when Ingalls employment was more than 20,000.
Bodden also did something unusual that put many credit union members on the path to a lifetime of saving. He challenged members to designate a portion of each loan to go directly in a savings account. His goal was to teach members the value of thrift and the benefit of becoming financially independent so they would no longer need co-signers for their loans. He would often express his genuine concern for the credit union members and fellow shipyard workers by saying, "Take care of the member ALWAYS. It's the most important thing we do."
His dedication and loyalty to members insured that he was consistently voted upon by the credit union membership to serve on the Board of Directors from 1983 to 2012, including serving as Vice Chairman from 1985-1986, 1995 to 2006 and again in 2008. From 1970 to 1972, Bodden led the Gulf Coast Chapter of Credit Unions as President.
In 2010, he was inducted into the Mississippi Credit Union Hall of Fame, earning the state's highest honor for credit union volunteers and well-deserved recognition for decades of credit union service and involvement. Charles Elliott, President/CEO of the Mississippi Credit Union League had the highest praise for Bodden's efforts that earned him this distinction, "I was honored to witness Roberts' passion, commitment and dedication to "helping people help themselves" through nearly 50 years of volunteer service at Navigator Credit Union. His service impacted the financial well-being of tens of thousands of credit union members and their families. His friendship made me a better person. For that, I am truly blessed."
In March, 2012, he received the title of Board Emeritus during Navigator's 73rd Annual Shareholders' Meeting for nearly a half of century of dedicated service.
Roberts participated in and served as Duke in carnival balls for BPOE Elks Lodge 1120, Knights of Columbus, Hairdressers, Tri-Cities, and Entre Nous. He was a charter member of Entre Nous, where he was honored as the first King and served two terms as President. He was also honored as King of the Ingalls Management Association Ball.
Roberts enjoyed the close companionships from the Ford, Pickett, Moore, Frederic, Krebs, Avara and Scholte families. He loved to tell what he called "sea stories". He had many stories including the first memory of when he was five years old. He told of all the summer trips he made as well as the 3 years he served in the Pacific Ocean while in the Navy. If ever he had a vice it was his love of the sea and duck hunting. Over the course of his life and career, he spanned over sailing vessels up through nuclear submarines.
Mass of Christian Burial was held Friday January 3, 2014 at Our Lady of Victories Catholic Church at 1pm with visitation one hour prior. He was laid to rest by his beloved wife, Mathilde and his parents at Machpelah Cemetery. Those who would like may express their condolences online at www.obryantokeefe.com.
Published in The Sun Herald from Jan. 3 to Jan. 5, 2014
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