Robert Bradford “Bobby” Rollins

My dad, Robert Bradford “Bobby” Rollins left his earthly home and went to be with his Lord and Savior, and my mom Peggy B. Rollins on October 7, 2022.    

Dad was born in Messick, Virginia on February 4, 1928.  He spent his life living, working, playing sports, and raising his family in Poquoson.  Dad was a humble man, but he was a fierce competitor when it came to sports.  He was a gifted athlete and loved playing baseball, football, golf, and bowling in local leagues through the years.  A coveted football player in high school, he was recruited to change schools to play football but remained true to Poquoson.   In 1948, after a brief stint in the Navy, dad was part of the First Tri-County Baseball League, where he was a league-leading hitter and according to the Daily Press account, “got the only solid base knock, a hot ground single into centerfield” off Max Lanier, a former St. Louis Cardinal hurler as a member of the “Messick Nine”.  Dad was always proud that he not only helped construct but was also able to play in the inaugural game (and many more) at the Messick Ball Park.  

Professionally, Dad worked in and ultimately owned the generations-old family hardware, wheelwright, and waterman’s supply store, J. K. Rollins Hardware.   It is there he learned and perfected the arts of blacksmithing and woodworking.  There was no job “too small”, and he was often the “go-to” source for solutions that otherwise seemed unsolvable… he loved the challenge!  

He had lifelong respect, affection, and appreciation for the local watermen and maintained close relationships across generations.   A talented blacksmith, he was known for his clam rakes, oyster tongs, and his ability to forge any tool, contraption, crab pot branding iron, or artistic artifact that someone (or I) needed or wanted.  

Chesapeake Bay Magazine featured his talents in a November 1996 article entitled “Anvil and Hot Fire” and the Mariner’s Museum in Newport News had him make sail hangers, oar hardware, and lots of hooks for an English Lifeboat exhibit.  He was a unique combination of engineer and artist, the likes of which will likely not be seen again.

As a husband and father, he was the best.   The three of us were a perfect team.  We worked together in the garden, and the orchard baked fruitcakes and had unparalleled fun on “band trips” and too many excursions to mention.   Dad loved mom and me unconditionally and regularly set aside his own priorities to be part of our plans, schemes, and dreams.   He never saw me as a “girl” often referring to me as “lad” and unabashedly encouraging me and engaging in whatever sport, dream, project, and career journey I decided to undertake.  He believed in me and was proud of me.  We were the best of friends, I am forever grateful, and I love him beyond measure.  

Dad leaves me (The Honorable) Karen R. Jackson and my significant other Jack Davidson, his grand-dogs Abby and Loki, pet goose “Wellington”, and a group of dear and devoted friends to celebrate his life and cherish precious memories.

I know his arrival in heaven was celebrated by those so dear to him including his parents, John King and Ada Belle Rollins, his brother John Taylor, my mom Peggy, and generations of relatives, teammates, and friends.  What a reunion it must have been!    

I want to express my deep gratitude to all the caregivers and friends who regularly answered, “one more question”, stood by us through good times and bad, and gave selflessly of your time, talents, and treasures.   You are forever a part of our family, and we love you! In lieu of flowers, I know dad would prefer that you take a moment to slow down, sit down and visit with a friend, or simply sit outside and feel the warmth of the sun and the breeze on your face.

A private graveside service will be held.

Arrangements are under the care of Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601.

1 Comment

  1. Betsy Rowe

    Growing up in Messick I dearly loved hearing Daddy say he had “run out” to John Kings and I was always first in the car. I so remember your Dad. Visits were always laid back with lots of laughter and kindness. I have the last oyster tongs my Granddaddy used that he got from John King’s. Reading your testament to your Dad brought back so many wonderful memories. Please accept my condolences on the passing of your Dad.

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