December 30, 1933 ~ December 8, 2022
Robert Franklin Soots Jr. of Pittsboro, North Carolina passed away peacefully on Thursday, December 8th, 2022, at the age of 88.
“Bob,” or Junior as his siblings lovingly referred to him, was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, on December 30, 1933, to Robert Franklin Soots Sr. and Cleo Byrd Soots. He was married to his loving wife Sharon Soots in 1962. He is survived by his wife, Sharon Soots, daughter Shannon Kay, son-in-law Aaron Kay, and adoring granddaughter Avery Kay.
Robert is survived by his siblings, Ralph Soots, Larry Soots and Joyce Smith. He was pre-deceased by siblings Arnold Soots, Roger Soots, and Richard Soots. He is also lovingly remembered by their spouses and his many nieces and nephews.
Bob grew up in Midland, North Carolina, and loved the out-of-doors from his early childhood. He often talked fondly of a dentist, who gave him bird identification cards when he was just a little boy. He loved fishing, animals, and plants. As a young child, he witnessed the effects of pollution when a favorite fishing spot was damaged by a hosiery mill dumping dyes in the river. This shaped his world view, and his life was dedicated to environmental protection and conservation. He joined the army in October 1953 serving in the 18th Airborne 54th Field Artillery Group and he was stationed in North Carolina.
After the Army, he attended N.C. State College where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife, Conservation Management, Master of Science in Ecology, and his Doctorate In Zoology/Ecology. He went on to be the Chairman of the Biology department at Campbell University and spent 15 happy years developing and teaching future environmentalists, biologists and scientists. While at Campbell, he founded Raven Rock State Park in 1969 and was thrilled to be honored at its 50th anniversary celebration. More information about the founding of the state park and his story can be found at https://www.chathamnewsrecord.com/stories/state-parks-creator-recalls-the-50-year-old-effort-to-preserve-raven-rock-land,2839.
He went on to become Chief of the Environmental Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and held subsequent positions in centralized programs and systems management. He was very proud of helping transition the Army Corps of Engineers to an electronic management system from a paper system. He loved technology, in addition to his lifelong love of the environment.
In his later years, he was an avid gardener and birdwatcher, participating in the Audubon bird count every year. He often gave friends, neighbors, and family advice on plants and continued to point out and identify birds even in his last months.
People wishing to honor Bob’s lifelong commitment to the environment can make donations to the Friends of Raven Rock State Park at https://www.friendsofravenrock.org/ Friends of Raven Rock, P.O. Box 1572, Lillington, N.C. 27546
Donaldson Funeral Home & Crematory is honored to serve the Soots family.
Memorial tributes can be left at www.donaldsonfunerals.com.