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Royal Marshall honored at funeral services, 1967-2011

The photo of Royal Marshall used on  the cover of  the funeral program from a Team Georgia roast in his name back in 2005. SOURCE: Team Georgia

The photo of Royal Marshall used on the cover of the program from a Team Georgia roast in his name back in 2005. SOURCE: Team Georgia

To listeners, Royal Marshall was a likable foil for talk-show host Neal Boortz.  To his colleagues, he was a perpetual breath of fresh air, a man who could turn a frown into a smile, grumpiness into laughter. To his family, he was a doting father to his two daughters.

Marshall, a crucial component on Boortz’s nationally syndicated radio show heard in Atlanta on AM750 and now 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB, was given an emotional and spiritual sendoff Saturday at Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur where he had been a parishioner for 18 years. More than 1,000 family members, friends, colleagues and fans attended. Boxes of Kleenex were in high demand.

He died Jan. 15 of a heart attack at his Atlanta home. He was 43.

“He was supposed to come to my service,” said the 65-year-old Boortz during his remarks at the church, as he choked up, “maybe 25 years from now.”

“I have never known anybody else in my life,” he continued, “who is in a good mood and good humor every single day of his life. I can’t remember one day he was frowning, one day that he was prone to snap your head off.”

Then in inimitable Boortz style, he added, “That’s totally unnatural to me!”

Boortz later made fun of Marshall’s golf skills. “He couldn’t read a green,” he said, “but he could read people. He could make anybody feel wonderful about himself and their life.”

keep-calm-and-carry-onIn Marshall’s honor, Boortz plans to hang a plaque in the WSB Radio engineering room where Marshall presided with an old British World War II saying: “Keep calm and carry on.” He and his wife Donna have also set up an education fund for Marshall’s kids. (The mailing address is: Royal Marshall Memorial Education Fund, Wells Fargo Bank, 1601 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta GA 30309.)

After the 90-minute ceremony, WSB radio host Herman Cain, who frequently substitutes for Boortz, said he found the service “uplifting, the way a home-going service should be. He would have wanted it that way.”

Cain was always amazed by how level-headed Marshall could be, even when the phones weren’t working.  “He would just say, ‘We’ll look into it and get it fixed.’ He added this calmness to the room.”

Rahul Bali, Marshall’s producer for his “Royal Treatment” night radio show from 1998 to 2005, said during the reflections that working with Marshall was like “a television show that I got to watch in front of my eyes every day we were on the air. It was the hands, the smile, the smirk. It was everything that was Royal.”

He recalls getting Marshall a  cake to celebrate one year on the air back in 1999. Bali said he didn’t pay much attention to what the Publix cake maker was doing. Right before they went on the air, Marshall glanced at the cake and smirked.  “He talked about a few things,” Bali said, “then said, ‘Rahul?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘There’s a white man on my cake!’ ”

Bali then noticed the cake featured a white man with an afro.

Marshall, he said, then added, “Black people marched  for justice! I can’t get a black man on my cake!”

As part of his charitable efforts, Marshall was chairman of the national advisory board of Forever Family, which helps children whose parents are incarcerated. “I knew it was love,” said Forever Family national president Sandra Barnhill, “when Royal used his personal relationship with Santa to get him to leave the North Pole during his busiest season the last two years and get Santa to come and  play games and distribute Christmas toys. Unfortunately, Royal always had other obligations and never made it to the parties. But someone said Santa kind of looked like him. ”

His pastor Rev. Cynthia Hale noted his deep dedication for his four-year-old Amira and two-year-old Ava. “He knew how to paint fingernails,” she said, “because he was a kid at heart.”

One of Marshall’s best friends, Lonnis Allen, recalled their partying days when he was a bachelor but said when he met his wife Annette and had kids, “he dove right in… I would call his house and hear the girls. ‘Daddy! Daddy! I want juice! I want Cheerios!’ He’d say, ‘Man, I’m over here in kiddie land!’ He loved every minute of it.”

Atlanta nurse Mary Virginia Jones, like many in the crowd Saturday, never met Marshall. She was there to pay respects to a man she enjoyed hearing for years on WSB Radio. “I always appreciated his sense of humor and how he would banter back and forth with Neal. You could tell they loved each other. Just a couple weeks ago, I remember Neal asking him about a topic. ‘What do you think, Royal?’ And he meant it.”

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NOTE: Commenting is now closed on this post.

By Rodney Ho, rho@ajc.com, AJCRadioTV blog

39 comments Add your comment

tore

January 22nd, 2011
3:21 pm

Love you Royal, will miss you a lot.

Tami

January 22nd, 2011
3:31 pm

I’m so sorry…I tried to delete or correct my message. I meant to say…

This world will never be the same WITHOUT Royal.

Ghostrider

January 22nd, 2011
3:46 pm

He was a good man and will be missed. RIP Royal…

Kerry

January 22nd, 2011
3:50 pm

Tami,
You were right to start with. The world will never be the same due to the presence of Marshall on this earth and what he contributed to us all. He will certainly be missed. However, we all will take a part of him along with us every day.

beachwriter

January 22nd, 2011
3:51 pm

I’m still in shock that Royal is gone. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and coworkers who miss him so much. It was surreal listening to Neal’s show this past week without Royal there. Just damn…

Sandra

January 22nd, 2011
3:56 pm

Thank you for writing this. He will be missed.

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the truth

January 22nd, 2011
4:09 pm

with your above comments, motorcross survivor, it is a shame that you survived. What an a$$clown you are.

Debra

January 22nd, 2011
4:09 pm

Royal, you’ll always have a special place in your fans hearts. Bless you and your family.

Ron Barr

January 22nd, 2011
4:16 pm

“I am Royal Marshall”.

His untimely passing at the same age that I currently am provided me with the motivation this week to think more seriously about my “heart health”.

Going to the gym when I don’t feel like it and watching what I eat (eating in moderation) are the two things that I can do to insure my longeivity.

I will miss hearing Royal on the radio.

JC

January 22nd, 2011
4:19 pm

Love Royal. The chemistry between Neal, Royal and Belinda was awesome. Royal will be greatly missed. God bless his wife and children.

dawg

January 22nd, 2011
4:19 pm

MotorCross–You are a sick SOB..Why denegrate Royal’s memory and his love for Neal with this rhetoric? You would never have had the intestinal fortitude to say this to their face. As to Royal–The GOOD they die young..RIP..

Rooby Doo

January 22nd, 2011
4:23 pm

Damn..Just Damn too soon.

Deborah

January 22nd, 2011
4:29 pm

Royal, You will be missed by so many people you never met! I was stunned by the tragic news of your passing. God bless you and your precious family. I was at a ladies’ luncheon today when someone mentioned your passing and we all toasted to your memory. Lots of people loved and appreciated you!

HJones

January 22nd, 2011
4:31 pm

For several months, I have been pondering what to name one of my 95 year old mother’s young cats. He is about one year old. He is a black and white tuxedo cat, very friendly, and talks a lot with a soothing message.. I have started calling him Royal. I will think of Royal Marshall each time I call his name. Royal was a wonderful man, and it is amazing how he affected so many people.

Meaningful Correction

January 22nd, 2011
4:37 pm

regarding Cain’s remarks, that’s “home going” not”home-grown” service . . .

Bonedaddy

January 22nd, 2011
4:43 pm

If Special Forces needs a spotter. Call me.

John G

January 22nd, 2011
4:51 pm

There will never be another Royal Marshall. We will miss you, please anyone who reads this message donate to the Royal Marshall fund.

OldGuy

January 22nd, 2011
4:52 pm

I enjoy Royal on the show. He tempered the old geezer, boortz. Royal struck a balance within the trio that will be hard to duplicate. I believe he’ll be missed.

God bless, Royal Marshall, RIP.

LWells2000

January 22nd, 2011
5:04 pm

Royal, I will miss you, friend. I’ll always remember our fun times together as student and teacher at Georgia Perimeter College before you finished UGA. I still scratch my head as to which one of us was which at the time. You left us too early…R.I.P. ~Lane

Motorcross Survivor is a d-bag

January 22nd, 2011
5:10 pm

Special Forces…I know we are all emotional right now with Royal’s passing. However, please don’t feed into Motorcross Survivor’s crap. He’s got you right where he wants you. He’s probably a guy who sits around all day in his underwear and posting to these blogs because he’s got nothing better to do. Remember, Royal would not have wanted it this way.

a "royal" friend

January 22nd, 2011
5:10 pm

I’ve known Royal since I was a kid at Ray of Hope. He was a mentor to me during my internship @ WSB. In all of the years I’ve known Royal, he had sustained a “willing and selfless” presence. He was truly a “good samaritan.” Thank you Royal for all you’ve done. May God sustain your kind spirit through the physical actions of your living loved ones.

Anonymous

January 22nd, 2011
5:10 pm

Royal, you will be missed.

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Peggy

January 22nd, 2011
5:23 pm

Royal will be greatly missed, but heaven now has it’s “Royalty”. Many prayer go out to Royal’s family !!!!

Paneful and Motocross

January 22nd, 2011
5:55 pm

Definitely a couple of bitter, underachieving dudes. Let me guess…. you are not happily married, have meaningless jobs that don’t pay well, and don’t have many friends. You probably rent a crappy run-down home or apartment. You are both LOSERS and not worthy of speaking of any decent person. White trash like you needs to learn it’s place. By the way, my money is with Special Forces!

Tom

January 22nd, 2011
6:02 pm

I’m guessing this motocross idiot is Frank Nelms.

Charles F.

January 22nd, 2011
6:02 pm

I will miss Royal’s laugh just like so many others. His wit and his kind verbal jousting with Neal was unforgettable. He also chose some classic funk to play during breaks (and I am a white guy who can’t dance!) The man had taste, candor, sincerity and was definitely full of love for his family and his fellow man. I think of what Royal meant to so many he never knew, and how appropriate for Royal to inspire so many right here in the hometown of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King was talking about Royal Marshall before any of us even knew who he was! A man judged by the content of his character, not the color of his skin. You bet we love you, Royal. You made the world a better place. We will miss you and no doubt there is a new angel in heaven.

sharon

January 22nd, 2011
6:02 pm

I’ve known Royal personally for 16-17 years. Royal was a great person and a great friend. If you knew him, you loved him. He was one of the most well-rounded, intelligent, respectful, caring, witty, good hearted people you would ever have the pleasure of knowing. Royal was the same person on AND off the air. He was down-to-earth, always made you laugh and always had a kind word to share. I don’t think anyone could honestly say a bad thing about him. He was just that GOOD. His service today was beautiful, just like him. I miss you, my friend.

Robert

January 22nd, 2011
6:02 pm

Somebody was arguing the other day about whether he got his start with Neal or Ryan Cameron. In actuality it all started in Athens at the old WXAG 1470 AM. Royal would crack us up nightly with the ‘yo mama joke of the day. Class act ’til the end RIP.

KB

January 22nd, 2011
6:06 pm

Royal Marshall: The King of Atlanta

Rosemary Hendrix

January 22nd, 2011
6:09 pm

Royal is the name his parents gave him and ROYAL he was always. He was born to give to others and GIVE he did. He gave his love for family, his love for humanity – he did what he was put on this earth to do. May your memory be eternal, Royal.

Greg

January 22nd, 2011
6:16 pm

We should all try to be more like Royal.

RadioGaGa

January 22nd, 2011
6:41 pm

I had the pleasure of meeting Royal and interacting with him numerous times at WSB. He was friendly, witty, talented and fun to be around. Atlanta will miss him as will Boortz’s listeners.

stranger in a strange land

January 22nd, 2011
7:04 pm

a good man gone too soon

Steve

January 22nd, 2011
7:08 pm

Boy, this one really brought slugs out from underneath their rocks, didn’t it? I’m not sure what kind of subhuman makes racist, hateful remarks about a Christian family man who dies at a tragically young age. I guess it makes y’all feel better about your own pathetic lives.

Karen Arm

January 22nd, 2011
7:09 pm

You are the best radio person in heaven rright now,WSB want be the same without YOU…

Jodi

January 22nd, 2011
7:10 pm

I just wanted to give my condolences to the family and friends of Royal. I feel like I lost a friend myself. Although I only met Royal once at a book signing with Neal, I listened to the show many times. I pray that Royal’s wife and daughters will find peace to be able to help them deal with their sorrow.
As far as the two above who wrote their negative comments, this is not the place. If you did not like Neal Boortz, then why did you listen to the show? You can change the station. Don’t use your hatred of Neal to ruin this peaceful tribute to Royal. He was a good man.

[...] funeral this past weekend was packed with loved ones and fans, according to the AJC’s Rodney Ho, who also is an Atlanta Press Club board member. Were you in attendance to pay your respects? [...]