Roberts honored for donation to Jefcoat Museum

Published 8:01 pm Saturday, December 1, 2012

By Gene Denison
Special to the News-Herald

A nearby museum with a unique collection of Americana got a big dose of harmony recently with the addition of more than 2,600 LP records and eight-track musical tapes.

The Brady C. Jefcoat Museum of Americana in Murfreesboro, N.C., already held the largest exhibits of butter churns, irons, washing machine equipment and music boxes in the United States. It also features displays of hunting trophies, almost every Daisy air gun ever made, phonographs, radios and glassware.

Frank Roberts and his wife Valeria enjoy the display of his vast collection of music and memorabilia at The Brady C. Jefcoat Museum of Americana in Murfreesboro, N.C.

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The latest items were donated to the museum by Frank Roberts, who is known throughout Tidewater and northeastern North Carolina for his witty reviews of area music events and his deep baritone voice on radio.

Roberts had collected everything from classical to rhythm and blues, ballads, pop, folk, country and more. His varied career took him back and forth across the United States as everything from a disc jockey to journalist to talk-show host. His gift of gab endeared him to many who loved his radio shows, and his clever writing style created a following among those who have depended on his reviews of area shows and musical events. He has even had an internet talk show that drew a wide audience.

Along the way, Roberts became friends with dozens of entertainment stars who often invited him back-stage for chit chat.

“I’d rather give my collection to this wonderful museum than have the items disappear and be unappreciated,” Roberts said.

Displays are arranged to make it easy for visitors to view album covers and get a feeling for the vastness of the collection and of the diversity of American music.

To celebrate the gift, which occupies most of one of the larger sections of the museum, The Jefcoat honored Roberts and his family and friends with a luncheon at the museum Nov. 10. Those who hadn’t visited the Jefcoat Museum before were given personal tours of the facility.

The museum was the result of plumber and electrician Brady Jefcoat’s purchase many years ago of an interesting gadget he spied at a sale. He couldn’t figure out what it was, but his curiosity made him search for an answer to its function. It turned out to be an old Edison Triumph phonograph without the horn speaker. After getting it to operate again, he decided to look for another one.

Thus began years of collecting just about anything that appealed to him. When his collection got too large, he decided to buy the unused high school in Murfreesboro. He then donated the building and his collection to the people of the town.

Jefcoat continued adding to the collections, confounding the museum staff volunteers. Just as they had each exhibit arranged, they had to do it all over again to fit in the new additions.

The museum is located at 201 West High Street in downtown Murfreesboro. Volunteers are available to give tours Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. For more information, call 252-398-8054.