Deacon Walter Deloatch, Sr. finished his abundant earthly life December 2, 2022. He was born June 15, 1924, in the Margarettsville/Seaboard area of Northampton County, NC to Nannie Bell (Barnes) Deloatch and James Thomas Deloatch.
In 1947, Walter married Rosa Mae Drew and together they raised ten children of their own and helped rear numerous relatives. During their 56-year marriage, they were active community members in the conjoining counties of Southampton County, VA and Northampton County, NC. In 1959, Walter moved his family into their Margarettsville home that he built on land purchased by his grandfather, Thomas Deloatch, a Union Army soldier in the Civil War. Throughout his life, the homeplace was a source of great pride and sustenance. He loved the land and tried his hand at growing peanuts, corn, cotton, and soybeans – along with raising hogs to feed the family and sell at market.
Like many African Americans of his generation who grew up in the Jim Crow South, he was forced to quit school in the sixth grade to sharecrop. However, his lack of formal education did not diminish his thirst for knowledge and love of his Country. He joined the U.S. Army in 1944. His experience as a World War II soldier significantly expanded his opportunities and influenced his world view. He often reminisced about his travels to the Philippines, Korea, France, Germany, and other parts of Asia and Europe. He received several decorations and citations for his military service. After his honorable discharge in 1946, he took advantage of the GI Bill benefit and attended Halifax Technical College where he apprenticed and earned credentials as a carpenter and brick mason. He was an eager learner who returned to school as an older adult and earned his GED through an extension program at a former Rosenwald School (Jonesboro School). Even in his 80s, he explored returning to the local community college to earn an additional degree.
Mr. Walter was a devout Christian who kneeled at his bedside each night to pray. He loved his church, church family and community. He took great pride in his lifelong affiliation with and service to Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church (founded in 1865). He faithfully served as a trustee and deacon, and he served briefly as church custodian. During his tenure as deacon, the congregation built and moved into a new church across the road from his birthplace. Singing was among his greatest joys; he was a member of Mt. Zion Male Chorus and Combined Choir. He also worshipped at Rising Star, Zion Hill, Seaboard, Piney Grove, and Galilee.
Throughout his life, he had a strong work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit. He shared memories of growing up during the Depression and his many work experiences over the years as a farm worker, truck driver, sawmill worker, laborer, carpenter, brick mason, and independent building contractor. Mr. Walter and Rosa Mae also operated a store in Branchville, Virginia at the “Hall.” Over his long career, he earned a reputation as a skilled carpenter, brick mason, and home builder who contributed to numerous commercial and residential projects in Northampton, Southampton and Halifax Counties, and far beyond.
He was a pillar of the community who treated everyone with dignity and loving kindness. He was a founding member of the Masonic Lodge and Odd Fellows Lodge in Branchville, Virginia, and he was a member of the local NAACP. In the 1950’s, he was among the first residents to open an account at the bank in Boykins, Virginia.
Walter and Rosa Mae instilled in their children a love of education and a commitment to helping and serving others. Having lost his mother when he was seven years old, he knew the value of hard work and self-sufficiency. Among the advice he often espoused was “When you need a helping hand, look at the end of your arm,” and “Stop talking so much and just do the work!” Walter and Rosa Mae took great pride in their children’s many educational and career accomplishments, and they enjoyed visiting them and other relatives in various parts of the country for holidays, graduations, vacations, and other occasions.
For his family, his passing marks the end of an era - Mr. Walter was the family patriarch and last remaining elder of his generation. He was preceded in death by his wife, Rosa Mae; three sons, Robert Earl, James Donald and Walter, Jr. Esq.; granddaughter, Kamissie Dabela, and son-in-law, Johnny Pelzer. His nine siblings also preceded him in death: Robert Deloatch (Eunice), James Henry Deloatch (Ruby), John Wesley Deloatch (Alice), Atlas Simon Deloatch (Emma), Thomas Deloatch, Willie Green Deloatch, and Moses Deloatch; Hattie Adele Deloatch Collins (Grant) and Clara Belle Deloatch Fletcher (Mack).
His in-laws - like siblings to him - preceded him in death: Frank Drew (Daisy), George Drew (Dorothy), David Lee Drew (Christine), Johnnie Drew (Dolores), Edgar Drew (Rosalean), Julia Darden (Joshua), Mary Darden Bryant (Mr. Holly Darden and Mr. Constance Bryant), Martha Darden (John), and Lillian Collins (Larry).
Mr. Walter was a nurturing and supportive father whose presence will be deeply missed. To carry on his legacy, he leaves: his children, Earlene Pelzer of Hempstead New York, Reverend Sandra Deloatch Reddish (Reverend Scott Reddish) of Durham, Lillian Lois Deloatch (Edward Gomes, Jr.) of Durham, Linette Deloatch-Smith, PhD. (Derrick) of Mableton, GA, Clement Alex Deloatch of Decatur, GA, Vivian Agatha Deloatch of Margarettsville, and Wendell Deloatch of Raleigh; grandchildren, Reginald Darnell Pelzer, Sharonda Pelzer Langford (Henson); Janical Galloway Deloatch (Sheldon), Tamara Deloatch-Warren (Randy), Danielle Barbour Wilson, Esq. (Jonathan Wilson, Esq.), Daniella Deloatch, Janelle Deloatch, Kevin Deloatch Dawson (Kelly), Blair Michael Anthony, Esq., and Philip Walter Deloatch; great-grandchildren, Naya Pelzer, Jayna Hughes, Shamon McNair, Stephon McNair, Sharmel Langford, Shanaya Langford, Tatyana Pelzer, Tiara Pelzer, Rueben Deloatch, Shanna Deloatch, Drew Marie Wilson, Faith Dawson and Jonah Walter Dawson; great-great grandchildren, London Redd and Khloe Smith; daughters-in-law, Joyce Deloatch Dunn and Felecia Darden Rivers. He will be lovingly remembered by his nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.
Relatives and Friends are encouraged to visit Deacon Deloatch's tribute wall to share memories, extend condolences and to order floral tributes, as sentiments to the family.
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