Retired Marine 1st Sgt. Molbro Roberts, 79, died Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, at St. Vincent's Hospital in Jacksonville.
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His funeral services were Saturday, Aug. 31, at the Greater Beulah Missionary Baptist Church in Jacksonville, where he held membership and served as a trustee. The Rev. Anthony L. Willis Sr., the church's pastor, presided. 1st Sgt. Roberts was interred at the Jacksonville National Cemetery on Tuesday, Sept. 3, with full military honors.
Affectionately known as "Sarge," Molbro Roberts was born in the Dorchester community on Jan. 8, 1934, to Sam and Ada Roberts. He was preceded in death by all but one of his siblings, including: Maggie Demere, a former high school teacher in Liberty and Chatham counties, Sam Roberts, a master plumber in Liberty County, Ella Roberts of Midway, formerly with Ida Mae & Joe's Restaurant, Annie Lou, Rosina, Clarence and James of Philadelphia.
1st Sgt. Roberts grew up in the Tradehill community of Midway on Cay Creek Road in Liberty County. He joined Community Baptist Church at an early age, later joining Midway Congregational. Educated in the local public schools, he graduated from the Liberty County Training Center in 1951. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1952, attending boot camp in Paris Island, S.C., before serving in the Korean War. He was also stationed in Philadelphia.
In 1956, while in Philadelphia, he married fellow classmate, Sallie Walthour (Richardson), and to this 19-year union, three children were born: Claire Robinson (Bradley) and Sandra Bell (Vince) at Camp LeJeune and Cherrypoint, N.C., respectively; and Molbro V. Roberts (Lisa) at Fort Stewart.
Sgt. Roberts' 20 years of active duty service included being stationed at Camp LeJeune, N.C., Key West, Okinawa, Japan, and two tours of duty in Vietnam. Retiring in 1972, he was employed briefly at George Williams Chevrolet in Hinesville, before being recruited by the Marine Corps to become a JROTC instructor in Jacksonville. He served the JROTC program at Jean Ribault Senior High School for 32 years, retiring with distinction, as he and his classes of cadets won many local, state and national competitions and awards.
In 1996, he married his surviving wife, Valencia Smith Roberts, currently an educator in Duval County Schools.
In addition to his wife, Sarge is survived by his mother-in-law, Earnestine Smith; his children, including Tojuan Smith (Shenita); eight grandchildren including 2 grandsons in the military, Petty Officer Jamel Jones on active duty in the U.S. Navy and Vince Terrell Bell a 2nd Lt. in the U.S. Army Reserves, two great-grandchildren; and his sole surviving sister, Laura B. Carswell of Midway, as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins other relatives and friends.
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Published in Coastal Courier from Sept. 4 to Sept. 11, 2013