Sergeant Major George J. (Red)
Marlett (US Army retired)
On October 31, 2017 another of our Greatest Generation – Sergeant Major George J. (Red) Marlett (USArmy retired) – died at his home in Opelika, Alabama. He was well known as a Christian, a patriot, a historian, a Mason, an athlete, but most of all as a man who loved his family. Red was born in a small mining village in Cambria County, Pennsylvania on November 17, 1921 to Mary Alice (Sinclair) Marlett deArmin (1903-1991) and Harry Alfonso Marlett (1896-1938). He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Maxine Mann Marlett, two grandsons: Keith Allen Roudabush and Daniel Walker Marler; and both of his brothers, Henry Marlett and William Sinclair.
At the age of 18, on New Year’s Eve, 1940, George was sworn into the United States Army and reported to Company B, 16th Infantry Division of The Big Red One. Eleven months and one week later Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. The Queen Mary luxury cruise liner was converted to a transport ship and carried him across the Atlantic. After orientation in England, his company joined with Patton’s Army as they marched across North Africa and into Sicily.
On July 4th, 1943 he was re-assigned to POW Camp Opelika where he served as a guard over some of same Hitler SS troops he fought against overseas. Once the prisoners were secured for the night, he would have the opportunity to visit with a telephone operator who introduced him to her sister, Maxine, who became the love of his life. They were married in January 1945. His memories of them dancing the night away always became part of “family story time.” At the end of a work day, they would walk the seven miles to Midway Plaza where a band played, dance all night, then walked back to the Camp in time to report for duty.
He and Maxine moved to Ohio and North Dakota after his discharge, but returned to Opelika in 1949. He worked first as a carpenter with Bradford Construction Company building houses in the Perfect Homes Subdivision. Eventually he went to work with the Southern Bell Telephone Company and has been credited with installing the majority of the land lines at Auburn University.
Red served in a multitude of positions within the Masonic organization. Many honors were awarded to him including the coveted honorary 33rd degree of the Scottish Rite. He enjoyed teaching others and has had a major impact across the state.
Because of his patriotism, George joined the Alabama National Guard and proudly served his country until forced to retire at the age of 60. Though he achieved the highest possible enlisted rank of Sergeant Major, his favorite position was that of first sergeant. He volunteered to return to active duty during Desert Storm in 1991, but instead served as a liason for families of deployed guard members.
Until two years ago, Red began each morning doing a full workout at the gym. Not many members of the gym could keep up with his pace. He inspired, encouraged, and challenged whomever he met to become the best they could be.
Red was a “people” person…he seldom met a stranger. He served as a hospital volunteer for many years. The morning of his own open heart surgery decades ago, the nursing staff had to chase him down because he was busy visiting with everyone on the surgical wing! He also spent many hours driving children and their families to Shriner’s Crippled Children Hospitals in the Carolinas.
He is survived by his five children, Peggy (Dave) Roudabush of Portage, Pennsylvania; Patricia (Will, deceased) Rushton of Great Falls, Montana; Cathy (Mike) Ponder of Cullman, Alabama; LeeAnne (Bobby) Evans of Opelika, Alabama; and William Hoyt “Rusty”(Amanda) Marlett of Owasso, Oklahoma. He was “Pappy” to 12 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and 15 great-great grandchildren, loved by nieces and nephews, and a host of friends.
Visitation was Sunday, November 5, 2017, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. at Providence Baptist Church West Campus followed by the funeral service at 3:00 p.m. with Pastor Rusty Sowell officiating. Military honors and Masonic rites were given at the graveside in Garden Hills Cemetery.
Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home & Crematory