Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Raleigh Rollins, the co-owner of the old Hart-Rollins Furniture Company in downtown Bainbridge for 60 years and a decorated veteran of World War II, died on Sunday at Big Bend Hospice House in Tallahassee, Fla.
He was 86.
Born in Bainbridge on Feb. 20, 1922, Mr. Rollins was legendary in his humor and his pranks—both as a perpetrator and as a victim—with other Bainbridge legends such as Max Langston and Cheney Griffin.
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“You can’t print what they did to each other,” Kaye R. Luckey, Mr. Rollins’ daughter from Atlanta, Ga., said Tuesday. “All those men down there were as funny as all get-out. They never took it too far, but they were funny.”
She said she can remember going on road trips with her father, and if he passed a dead animal on the road, he would box it up and mail it to the late Langston.
Mrs. Luckey said Mr. Rollins was an avid outdoors man and had a particular passion for quail hunting, owning at one time 24 bird dogs.
“He was the most generous, kind-hearted, saw-good-in-everybody person I’ve ever know,” Mrs. Luckey said.
Mr. Rollins served in the U.S. Army during World War II and received the Silver Star with Decorations and the Bronze Star with Decorations among other medals for his service. His unit liberated Dachau, Germany concentration camp and received a citation from the U.S. Congress for their heroic efforts.
Mr. Rollins received the first Hero of Freedom Award from Grace Christian Academy.
When he returned from the war, Mr. Rollins co-owned the furniture company with Hugh Hart, and operated Hart-Rollins Furniture Company until it closed in 2006. The first furniture store opened on Board Street, which is now a parking lot. The store moved just to the south on Board Street, across the street where Park Avenue Bank is located now.
Mr. Rollins served on the Board of Corrections and the state Pardons and Parole Board under the late Gov. Marvin Griffin. He also served on the first Hospital Authority board.
He graduated from Bainbridge High School, and he owned and operated Hart-Rollins Furniture Company from 1946 to 2006. He was a past president of the Bainbridge Jaycees and a lifelong member of First Baptist Church, where he had served as deacon and treasurer.
Mr. Rollins served as a director for First Federal Savings and Loan and Park Avenue Bank, and he also served on the Bainbridge Housing Authority. He was a member of Orion Lodge # 8 F. & A.M., the Bainbridge Shrine Club, and the Hasan Shrine Temple.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 11, at First Baptist Church with Dr. Al Reese, and the Revs. Paul Medley and Stephen L. Webb officiating.
Graveside services with full military honors will follow at Oak Cemetery with grandsons serving as active pallbearers.
Memorials may be made to Gilbert H. Gragg Library, 301 S. Monroe St., Bainbridge, GA 39819.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Mary Eugenia Willis Rollins.
Survivors include two sons, Dr. Raleigh W. Rollins and his wife, Gloria, of Tallahassee, Fla., and Reese Rollins and his wife, Missy, of Bainbridge; two daughters, Kaye R. Luckey and her husband, Grady, of Atlanta, Ga., and Mary R. Miller and her husband, Gene, of Bainbridge; 10 grandchildren, Raleigh W. Rollins Jr. of Thomasville, Ga., Susan R. Bannon of Coral Gables, Fla., Grady Luckey Jr. and Rollins Luckey, both of Atlanta, Ga., Gene Miller Jr. of Portland, Ore., Rollins Miller of Tallahassee, Banks Miller, Mary Claire Rollins, Caroline Rollins and Mallie Rollins, all of Bainbridge; and eight great-grandchildren, Raleigh W. Rollins III and Elizabeth Rollins of Thomasville, Ned Bannon Jr., Anne Bannon and Walter Bannon, all of Coral Gables, Fla., Rollins Miller, Hayne Miller and Mary Call Miller of Tallahassee.
Ivey Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.