Robert Wesley Harrell Jr.

Published 5:18 pm Saturday, April 18, 2015

His favorite saying: “Don’t put off ‘til tomorrow what you can do today.” And he was one to get a lot done!

Robert Wesley Harrell Jr., 76, of Suffolk, passed away April 17, 2015. He was born Feb. 4, 1939, to the late Robert Wesley Harrell Sr. and Mary Elizabeth Jones. Surviving are his loving wife of 50 years, Monette Roberson Harrell; his two daughters, Robyn Monet Harrell Soto, of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., and Cheri Renee Harrell Anthony (David), of Richmond; grandchildren, Alessandro and Massimo Wesley Soto, and Spencer Campbell and Audrey Elizabeth Anthony; brother, Richard Riddick Harrell (Nora Butler), of Suffolk; two nephews, three nieces, and 10 great-nephews and -nieces.

Robert was a graduate of Whaleyville High School and the College of William and Mary in 1960. He received his MBA from Old Dominion University in 1971 and an Ed.S. in higher education from the College of William and Mary in l993. He was a very active member of Main Street United Methodist Church and a fiercely devoted father, husband and grandfather.

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“Bobby” began his career with his father in the family Virginia ham business, Joel E. Harrell and Son Inc. Along with his wife, Monette, Bobby was the author of the “Ham Book” and “Delilah and the Christmas Ham.”

In the ‘80s, he taught business for seven years in the community college system. Appointed by Governor Baliles, he served five years on the State Board of Community Colleges and served eight years on the Governors Industrial Development Advisory Board and National Board of Association of Community Colleges Trustees. He retired as vice president of regional operations for Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology.

Bobby served on the Board of Directors of the College of William and Mary Business and Technology Center; the Development Board for the School of Education; chairman of the William and Mary Chapter President’s Council; and president of the William and Mary South of the James Alumni Chapter.

Bobby was active in a variety of community affairs. He was the founder and charter member of the Suffolk Ruritan Club, and served as member, advisor or board member of the Elizabeth River Project, the Bank of America ODU Entrepreneurial Center, the Virginia Modeling and Simulation Center, the Rural Virginia Initiative and the Children’s Museum of Virginia. He was chairman for the Suffolk Democratic Committee for 14 years and served the city of Suffolk with his involvement in the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.

Bobby’s dedication resulted in a variety of awards: Suffolk’s Outstanding Young Man by the Jaycees in 1974; Bill Holloran Award for Outstanding Contributions to Small Businesses in 2004; and Hampton Roads Outstanding Leadership in Technology in 2004. Bobby received many outstanding national awards from the NAMTAC organization. In 2014, Robert was chosen First Citizen of Suffolk. After serving on the Suffolk Salvation Army board for more than thirty years, he spent his final years and moments dedicated to the Suffolk Salvation Army’s fund raising efforts for the expansion of their facility.

A celebration of life service will be held at 2 p.m. on Monday in Main Street United Methodist Church. The service will be conducted by pastor, the Rev. Myrtle Hatcher, and Capt. Jim Shiels of the Suffolk Salvation Army. The family will receive friends in the atrium following the service. In lieu of flowers, the family would like memorial donations made to Salvation Army of Suffolk, 400 Bank St., Suffolk, VA 23434 and Main Street United Methodist Church Daycare Scholarship Fund, 202 N. Main St., Suffolk, VA 23434. R.W. Baker & Co. Funeral Home and Crematory, Suffolk, is serving the family, and condolences may be registered at