Obituary for Samuel Motley
In South Roanoke Nursing Home at 12:08 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, the Lord called Samuel Leon Motley, who was 98 years old, to his eternal home in God’s heavenly kingdom. Born on March 19, 1925, in Sutherlin, VA, Sam was the fifth son and seventh child of John Henry and Elizabeth Owen Motley’s eight children. His family moved to Shockoe, VA in 1927 where he attended Mrs. Fitzgerald’s one room school through fourth grade when Spring Garden School opened four miles away. His family moved to Blairs, VA in 1938 where he worked as a teenager on their farm and graduated third of 60+ students in the 11th grade at Dan River High School when he was 16 years old.
Sam was drafted in 1944 to US Army’s 58th Regimental Combat Team of Arizona National Guard and sent to LaGaspie, Philippines, where a large Japanese mountain cave gun was captured, to support Japan Occupation in WW2. He was transferred to Yokohama, Japan, to supervise Japanese prisoners’ unloading of merchant ships. During this time, Sam experienced an earthquake, endured a flea infestation, and accompanied Jackie Jenson of the Boston Red Sox major league baseball team to a leveled Tokyo. Upon his return to the USA in 1946, Sam played minor league sandlot baseball (his passion) and worked with his older brothers, Earl and Lawson, in wiring houses. On March 27, 1948, Sam married Bernice Chloe Slayton of Blairs in Blairs Baptist Church. In 1950 right after the birth of his first son, Philip Eugene Motley, the US Army drafted him to go to Pusan, Korea, with 1022nd Corp of Engineers of Parksburg, WV, to work on the 38th parallel fortifications. When Sam returned to the USA in 1952, he resumed work on his family’s farm and electrical work in his brothers’ business.
While he was working on Buggs Island Dam power plant, he met Doug Higginbotham of South Boston, VA, who had mechanical skills with large equipment. Doug convinced Sam to move his young family to a duplex apartment in Willoughby Spit peninsula of the Ocean View area of Norfolk, VA, for work with Mechanical Engineers on Bank Street. His first job was to work on a missile site near Washington, DC. In 1953, he temporarily moved his family to a rental house on 39th Street, and in 1954, the family moved again to 2332 Wharton Court in Little Creek section of Norfolk which became their permanent home for many years during which his second son, Steven Allen Motley, was born on May 13, 1961. After a brief time as a shoe salesman for Sears and Roebuck, Sam had the good fortune to become a foreman for Volta Electric (which later became Ocean Electric). Over the ensuing years of his work as a journeyman electrical foreman, he guided construction on first two phases of Norfolk General Hospital, on two phases of Chesapeake General Hospital’s construction, on the first phase of building Leigh Memorial Hospital on Kempsville Rd., on first phase of Chesapeake Water Treatment Plant on Centerville Turnpike, on phase one of US Navy’s Sewage Treatment Plant on Shore Drive, on upgrade of Norfolk’s water treatment plant on Kempsville Rd., on repair of sewage treatment plant in Churchland, and on construction of US Navy’s League of Nations building at USN Naval Operations Base entrance on Hampton Boulevard. He never had a weekday when he dreaded going to work, and he was proud of his accomplishments in making physical improvements in the Tidewater area.
Upon the death of his beloved wife of almost 50 years, Bernice, due to cancer on Jan. 24, 1998, Sam subsequently married Margaret Virginia Smith Ellett on June 19, 1999, in Glengariff Baptist Church. As a result, Sam became the stepfather of Bobby Ellett of Norfolk, Barbara Ellett (Frank) Moore of Chesapeake, and Linda Ellett (Harry) Fowler of Midlothian, VA. During their subsequent 24 years of marriage, Sam and Margaret enjoyed visiting their families, going on trips with IBEW retirees and church groups, participating in First Baptist Church’s senior Sunday School class meetings, and interacting with their neighbors.
In his free time, Sam served his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, by holding various positions (such as deacon chairman, worship greeter, Sunday School teacher, Royal Ambassador leader, maintenance supervisor, etc.) in Azalea Baptist Church, Glengariff Baptist Church, and First Baptist Church of Norfolk. He spent many Saturdays helping senior citizens when they had electrical problems, and working on the maintenance of Norfolk Christian Schools. He held various leadership roles in Local Chapter 80 of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers during his 70 years of membership. He enjoyed participating in many sports during his active retirement years, such as playing golf and card games (especially Rook), throwing horseshoes and cornhole, playing croquet and badminton, bowling, fishing, and bird hunting. He even won a medal in a local senior Olympic game! As this humble and gentle soul stated more than once, “I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family and great health until recently in my long life! The Lord has been good and gracious to me.”
Sam was preceded in death by his parents, his siblings and their spouses, his first wife, Bernice, and his stepson, Bobby Ellett. He is survived by his second wife, Margaret Ellett Motley, of Midlothian, VA, by his two sons, Philip Eugene (Jenny) Motley of Roanoke, and Steven Allen Motley of Raleigh, NC, by his two grandsons, Ian Christopher (Paul Perterer) Motley of Saalbach, Austria, and Evan Luke Motley of Roanoke, by two stepdaughters, Linda Ellett (Harry) Fowler of Midlothian, VA, and Barbara Ellett (Frank) Moore of Chesapeake, VA, as well as by many nephews and nieces, and Margaret’s grandchildren and great grandchildren.
As the last remaining charter member of Blairs Baptist Church located at 5260 US-29 Bus, Blairs, VA 24527 (434-836-1080), visitation will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. The service will start at 2 p.m. with Reverand John Lester presiding, and interment will follow at 3 p.m. in Highland Burial Park, 3059 N. Main St./Piney Forest Road, Danville, VA 24540. After the burial, we shall return to the family life center of Blairs Baptist Church for a catered meal and fellowship until 5:30 p.m.
If you wish to provide flowers, please send them by no later than 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 11, to Oakey’s South Chapel, 4257 Brambleton Avenue SW, Roanoke, VA 24018 (540-989-3131). If you wish to make a memorial donation, please send it to your favorite charity.
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