William Roby, 94, passed away Friday, July 17, 2020, at the Mississippi State Veterans Home in Kosciusko. A graveside service will be held at Parkway Cemetery in Kosciusko on Friday, July 24, at 10 a.m.
William was born in Kosciusko on January 20, 1926, the first of two sons born to Clara McCool Roby and Shelby William Roby, Sr. His brother, Jimmy, completed the family less than two years later, all of whom lived most of their lives in Kosciusko.
From an early age, William showed a natural inclination for construction. At the age of 12, he built the still-sturdy garage and storeroom at the family home on South Natchez Street. That was also the year he became Attala County's first Eagle Scout.
He played football at Kosciusko High School, one of only two juniors on first team defense. After graduating from high school in 1944, he fulfilled his 1943 enlistment by reporting for basic training in the U.S. Army Air Corp at Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas. An assignment to Hondo Air Force Base in Texas followed; then one to Scott Field in Illinois. The war ended, and he was honorably discharged in November of 1945.
In January of 1946, William enrolled at Mississippi State College, now MSU. In 1949, he graduated early with a degree in Business.
He then married Frances Doss of Kosciusko and they moved to Jackson. William's first job was division manager of the Electrical Department at Sears Roebuck and Co. Their first child, Cindy, was born there in 1951. The family then moved back home to Kosciusko, where they would remain. William went to work as office manager and accountant of the new creamery known as LuVel. He was also secretary of the corporation and became a stockholder.
During the first 10 years in Kosciusko, the family grew by three. Sherrie was born in 1954, Kevin in 1957, and Kent in 1962.
William became involved in local youth sports. He was instrumental in the formation of Dixie Youth Baseball in the local area. He was the second president of the organization and served for many years as player agent. Soon afterward, he helped little girls' softball become a local reality. William refereed Friday night high school football games for many years.
His love of construction continued throughout his life with his larger projects being a sizable addition to the family home, the building of a playhouse/guesthouse in the backyard that was enjoyed for years by his children and their friends, “flipping” houses, and renovating rental properties. To fulfill a dream of Frances’s, the two of them renovated an old house that became their home. William and his wife were lifelong DIYers.
William held the longest active membership status at First Baptist Church in Kosciusko at the time of his death. He served as deacon, taught adult Sunday School classes, served on numerous committees (including being part of the Monday morning group that counts tithes and offerings), and taught Baptist Youth Union with his wife for many years.
Shortly after the sudden death of Frances in 1987, William retired from LuVel. To stay busy, he worked some at MS Sportswear in accounting and partnered with Dan Wright as contractors for small construction jobs. He enjoyed life with his children, grandchildren, and great- grandchildren. He and his friends met daily for coffee and enjoyed participating in the Doug Colston Thursday Afternoon Men’s Group. His hobbies included computer work, Mary Ricks Thornton Cultural Center involvement, genealogy research, and family projects.
William was the last living charter member of the Kosciusko Exchange Club, which at its inception had a membership of 44. A few years ago, he was honored by the club at its annual banquet with a scholarship in his name to be awarded annually to a deserving high school senior. On his 90th birthday, he was presented a Certificate of Commendation from the Mayor and Board of Aldermen that states, ".....for having lived during the most turbulent century in the World's history, he worked diligently to be a fruitful and productive citizen of our community."
William was preceded in death by his wife, Frances Doss Roby; his parents, Clara and Shelby William Roby, Sr.; and his brother, Jimmy Roby. He is survived by his children, Cindy (Wayne) Heilbronner, Sherrie (Stephen) Cheek, Kevin Roby, all of Kosciusko, and Dr. Kent Roby of New Orleans; his grandchildren, Corey Cheek, Haley (Shelby) Kuhn, Megan Cheek, Britton (Brad) Hathorn, Logan Cheek, Morgan (Chris) Blailock, and 14 great-grandchildren.
William earned the love and respect of his family and friends by living his life with a quiet, patient, constant Christian spirit. He never called attention to himself but was recognized for his character and strength by so many others.
Pallbearers will be family members Wayne Heilbronner, Stephen Cheek, Corey Cheek, Logan Cheek, Brad Hathorn, and Shelby Kuhn. In respect of current health concerns, the family requests guests maintain social distancing and masking guidelines.
Donations may be made to the Kosciusko First Baptist Church, the Kosciusko Exchange Club William Roby Scholarship Fund, or a charity of your choice.
Jordan Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.