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Robert Roosevelt Parson

Robert Roosevelt Parson, 2008
Robert Roosevelt Parson by Monica Shenouda

Name:  Robert Roosevelt Parson

Date:  2003

Image Number:  RP01cdRP01

Comments:  Robert Roosevelt Parson was born on December 15, 1932, in Buckingham County, Virginia, about 4 miles from Scottsville.  He was the youngest child of Mattie Patterson (born about 1898) and Willie Oscar Parson (born about 1898).  Robert lived in Buckingham Co. for all of his life except for the 8 years he served in the U.S. Air Force.

Robert grew up on his father's Buckingham farm of 70 acres near Hatton, VA.  He said his family never lacked food and raised hogs and chickens and grew wheat.  In the wintertime, his father would buy a barrel of salt herring or one hundred pounds of sugar, prunes, and dried peaches by the crate.  His mother would can about 100 lbs. of vegetables and meat.  She also would sulphurize apples by slicing 6 gallons of apples and putting them at the bottom of a pan with sulphur on top a paper that she would ignite.  A quilt would go over the barrel, and the apples would then stay fresh for the entire winter.  Apple and pear trees also grew on the Parson farm.  Robert's father also would sow black-eyed peas, and his children would pick the peas.  On rainy days, his father and his children would shell corn and then take it down to the mill to grind for corn meal.  Their two cows produced milk for the family to drink, and Robert's mother also sold the butter to the Centenary store to make "extra change" and also would exchange chickens for the groceries she needed and sell eggs to the store, too.

The siblings of Robert's father, Willie Oscar Parson, were all devout Christians and attended Sharon Church, a white church above Centenary.  Willie's Uncle Willie Parson would spend a week with his white church friends.  Margaret Spencer was a distant cousin on Robert's mother's side of the family, and she often invited Robert to see her church.  At the time of the Civil War, the Sharon Church congregation was half black and half white.  Robert Parson's grandfather, Oscar Parson, would be asked to pray over the food served at the Sharon Church during their prayer breakfasts. 

Robert walked a mile and a half to school to attend first grade to eighth grade, which was never integrated.  This 3-room school, sits on 3 acres of land on Rute 678 near Luther Baber's school.  Robert said that he would bring his lunch, containing ham biscuit and apple puffs in a Karo Syrup gallon can.  During his 2003 oral history interview at Scottsville Museum, Robert phrased his school lunch's quality as "I'm telling you they were some kind of good!"

Robert and his family also attended a black church, Ridgeway Baptist Church,near their home. (Ridgeway Baptist Church building burned down about 1998.)  Robert said that this church was the social sphere of their community.  Ridgeway Church met only once a month, but Sunday school was held every week.  On the Third Sunday each August was Revival, and White people would also come to join this revival, and the church and its grounds would be full!!  Everybody brought food ("#1 go-getter menu that would attract the people: chicken, pie, cake, ice cream, watermelon, and cantaloupe.")  Revival Day would begin at 11am and end at 4pm.

Robert got started in his radio career by tinkering around in Fulton Mullin's store aka "Parr's Store."  Mullins would let Robert check tubes, would give him obsolete parts and also a 'how-to' magazine.  Robert built his first short wave radio in Junior High School.  The first time he heard his own radio, "BBC came on!"  Robert next graduated from Buckingham Training School in 1951.

Robert Parson in his Air Force uniform; photo taken during his basic training
Robert Parson in his Air Force uniform; photo taken during his Air Force training at the USAF's 'Radio Intercept Operation' training at Kessler Air Force Base, Mississippi in 1953-1957.

Robert Parson joined the U.S. Air Force on January 14, 1953.  On October 20, 1953, Airman 3C Robert R. Parson was awarded a Certificate of Proficiency as a specialist in the USAF's 'Radio Intercept Operation' class at Kessler Air Force Base, Mississippi.  He was then assigned to serve in Germany where he designed and built a radio station for the USAF.  Robert also was talked to his commanding officer to alert him to the need for for a short-wave communication station for AF officers to communicate back home with one-way 'Dear John' conversations.

MARS Station designed and built by Robert Parson during his  Germany Service
Military-Affiliated Radio Service (M.A.R.S.) Station designed and built by Robert Parson
during his AF service in Germany, 1953-1057.

While serving in Germany, Robert married Lular Moore, and brought his wife over to live with him in Germany.  Robert said that, "My job was my hobby!" and that during his last two years in Germany, he was very independent in his AF job where he worked on the fifth floor of the AF building in Germany.  He came out of his AF service in 1957 and went to Washington, D.C., where he worked in electronics for four years.  Robert also worked at the Library of Congress as a library assistant and ended up becoming a library assistant supervisor.  Robert also worked at Sporan Corporation in Charlottesville, VA, for nine years.  When laid off, Robert decided to turn his hobby, moonlighting into his own business.  He spent a brief interlude as an electronic engineering technician and built his own store.  But then TV expanded into satellite, and TV was not as profitable as before.  Everything was made in Asia!

Robert and his wife, Lular, became parents of five children: four daughters (Melody, Monica, Merisa, and Matika) and one sone (Robert Mark).  Below is a photo of Robert and Lular Parson sitting on a couch with Robert holding their grandson, Marc Davis, and Lular holding their granddaughter, Charissa Davis, with their son and 4 daughters standing with two son-in-laws around them in 2000:

The Robert and Lular Parson Family, 2000
The Robert and Lular Parson Family, 2000

Robert Parson joined the Baptist Church when he was twelve years old, but he claimed he was not a true Christian at that point.  He said that he became a true Christian after his service in Germany when he witnessed people who truly lived what they believed seven days a week.  Also Robert had a close call with death while in Germany when he was almost run over by a tractor trailer.  One night in Munich, Germany, Robert dedicated his life to Jesus Christ.  "I owe everything -- what I have, my family and all -- to that day in January 1954 when I committed my heart and life to Jesus Christ." Life as a Christian began for Robert, and he began preaching in 1955.  "I felt God's call to return to Buckingham County to share the gospel." In order to prepare himself, Robert then attended Washington Bible College in Germany.

Robert next decided to start a church, Community Baptist Church, in 1972.  Community Baptist Church supported 14-15 missionaries around the world -- Ghana, Australia, India, Japan, and Austria.  Robert took mission trips to Kenya and Guyana (where he had plans in 2003 to build a Baptist Church for its three dominant races -- East Indian, African, and Muslim.)

Reverend Robert and Lular Parson were volunteers at Scottsville Museum for many years.  Lular passed away on Tuesday, January 2, 2007, and is buried at Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Keene, VA.  After Lular's passing, Rev. Robert Parson married his second wife, Joy R. (Russell) Parson.  On Sunday, June 19, 2022 (Father's Day), Reverend Robert Roosevelt Parson passed away.  After his funeral services on June 25, 2022, Robert was buried beside his wife, Lular Moore Parson, at the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, 6456 Esmont Rd., in Keene, VA.

Copyright © 2022 by Scottsville Museum

Top Image Located On;   Capturing Our Heritage, CD RP01, Photographer: Monica Shenouda, 2003

Second Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CD RP01, Donated by Robert Parson

Third Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CD RP01, Photographer: Connie Geary

Fourth Image Located On:  Capturing Our Heritage, CDRP02, Donated by Robert Parson



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