Earl George Robertson, of Roanoke, Va., died Thursday, June 20, 2019 at age 96.
The eldest of four Robertson boys born to Rutledge William and Vivian Boon Robertson, Earl beat his twin brother, Dewey, out of the womb by 20 minutes on Sept. 30, 1922. They grew up in various homes around Roanoke, usually nearby to one of the myriad of automobile service stations Rutledge operated.
Seeing World War II on the horizon and thinking his boys safer in an airplane than the infantry, Rutledge got his boys flying lessons from T.E. “Boots” Frantz at Roanoke’s Woodrum Field.
After graduating Jefferson High School in 1941, Earl joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and indeed avoided combat -- though narrowly; he was up giving a flight lesson when command whisked every multi-engine pilot in the barracks away to train for the invasion of Europe. Instead, Earl spent most of the war at Ladd Field in Fairbanks, Alaska, carrying out cold-weather testing on American warplanes.
His wartime travels took him through Watertown, S.D., where he met Phyllis Maxine Wood. They were married in June, 1946 in Watertown and moved to Roanoke, where they lived thereafter.
Earl graduated from Roanoke College in 1950 and worked briefly in sales for General Electric before starting a career in real estate, first as a realtor and later as an appraiser. He never officially retired, reporting daily at the appraisal office into his 90s.
He was an active member and trustee of Greene Memorial United Methodist Church and served in several official capacities with the Roanoke Kiwanis Club. Earl was also a Freemason and a Shriner. He retired from the Air Force Reserve with the rank of major and continued to fly as a member of the Acorn Flying Club. In addition to flying, Earl enjoyed woodworking, automobiles, and boating.
Earl was preceded in death by his wife, Phyllis, and his younger brothers Dewey, Paul and Harold. He is survived by his sons David and Douglas, grandsons Mark and Joseph, nieces Nancy Healy and husband, Bo, Cathy Edwards and husband, Gordon, Brenda Simmons and husband, Willie, Sally Wood Alesia and husband, Ronald, Shirley Hawthorn and husband, John, and nephews Rutledge Robertson and wife, Jamie, and Richard Wood and wife, Sari.
A memorial service will be conducted on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. at Greene Memorial United Methodist Church with a reception to follow. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial tributes take the form of contributions to the Greene Memorial United Methodist Church Building Fund.
Online condolences may be expressed by visiting www.lotzfuneralhomeroanoke.com.