Mr. James Robertson, The Life of a True “True Gentleman”
How do you, in a short article, describe a life that has so matched the meaning of the words in “The True Gentleman”? As SAE’s, we all know the words, and most of us will never forget them. The words are burned into our memory from so many forced recitations. As pledges of SAE, we are immediately required to memorize them. As fraternity actives, each fall, we make sure that the new pledges know these words, and can recite them without fail at command. It is a rite of passage for SAE’s that I doubt will ever change.
As we move through college and into our adult lives, maybe a few think back on what these words really mean. We catch ourselves being reminded of the True Gentleman, and how the words written so long ago touch on so many aspects of how we carry ourselves, and deal with people in our lives. We know that we should strive each day to embody these words in flesh and blood.
Mr. James Robertson has lived these words through his life. His life is a story of success that was built one step at time. By the time he was 19 years old, both of his parents had passed away. He and his brother, Mr. Bill Robertson, were faced with running a small farm with limited means during the throes of terrible economic times during the Depression. To complicate matters, Uncle Sam came calling and Mr. James, like so many others, joined in the defense of his country. He served his country in General Patton’s 3rd Army in Europe during the Battle of Bulge as an Infantry soldier.
This rugged start in life did not deter Mr. James, and he would probably say it helped him to become successful. We can look at his life as an example of what it means to be a True Gentleman. I knew him as one of my best friends Dad. He would take us to watch our beloved Mississippi State Bulldogs play football, and let us ride his horses, and play on his farm. As I became older, and knew more of his story, I felt compelled to offer his story as one that might inspire young SAE’s to strive to be the best in everything they do. To compete, but to compete fairly, and with honor. The following is a short write-up that one of his children gave to me at my request. It is predictably modest, and contains just the facts. I hope that you will be as impressed and interested in this life as I am.
---John Garrard, Miss. Theta of SAE, 1980
James C. Robertson
704 Magnolia Drive
Indianola, MS 38751
James Cooke Robertson of Holly Ridge, Mississippi entered Mississippi State University in the fall of 1941 and pledged Sigma Alpha Epsilon. His brother, W.T. Robertson, was a member of the chapter at that time. James volunteered for ROTC at Mississippi State and was called to active duty. After completing basic training at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, and Officer’s Candidate School at Ft. Benning, Georgia, he graduated as a Second Lt. in the spring of 1944. Mr. Robertson was assigned to the 42nd Infantry Division at Camp Gruber, Oklahoma.
Immediately after D-Day on June 6, 1944, Mr. Robertson was sent as a replacement to Europe. He waded ashore on Omaha Beach on September 17, 1944 and was assigned to Company K of the 320th Infantry of the 35th Division, which was part of General George Patton’s Third Army. After moving through Southern France, his company, as well as many others, was loaded onto trucks headed to Bastogne, Belgium for what is known as the “Battle of the Bulge”. U.S. soldiers immediately launched an attack on Hitler’s elite troops. Snow was two feet deep, and weather did not permit any air support. After the weather cleared, the Air Force was able to provide much needed assistance. Because of severe frostbite, Mr. Robertson was evacuated to a field hospital on December 25, 1944. After a few days, he was flown to a hospital in Liverpool, England for a lengthy recovery. As the war ended, he rejoined his unit in the Army of Occupation south of Cologne, Germany.
Mr. Robertson was then assigned to a new division headed to the South Pacific, and the war with Japan. While on board a ship in LaHarve, France with 15,000 troops, the atomic bombs were dropped. These bombs ended the war with Japan, and Mr. Robertson returned to Mississippi. He participated in the Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe Battle Campaigns, and received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal. In 2009, Mr. Robertson was awarded the Legion of Honor Medal, by the French Government, in a ceremony at the French Consulate in Atlanta, Georgia.
He continued his education at MSU, and in 1947, he served as President of SAE, and a member of the Interfraternity Council. After graduation, Mr. Robertson returned to Holly Ridge, Misssissippi, and he and his brother Bill farmed together. He and his wife, Anne (Barrett) Robertson, have been married for 57 years, and are the parents of four children who are all MSU graduates. His son, James Cooke Robertson, Jr. (Jim), as well as his grandson,Christopher Polk were members of Mississippi Theta of SAE. Grandson Baird Allen is an SAE at Millsaps College.
Mr. James C. Robertson, Sr.- Miss. Theta of SAE, 1942, EA Miss. Theta, 1947
Mr. William T. Robertson, Sr.- Brother, Miss. Theta of SAE, 1939, EA Miss. Theta, 1942-1943
Mr. Jim Robertson- Son, Miss. Theta of SAE, 1980
Irene Robertson Long- Daughter, Miss. Theta of SAE Little Sister, Phi Delta Chapter of Chi Omega
Mrs. Betty Barrett Robertson Rogers-Daughter, Miss. Theta of SAE Little Sister, Phi Delta Chapter of Chi Omega
Mrs. Susan Robertson Allen- Daughter, Miss Theta of SAE Little Sister, Phi Delta Chapter of Chi Omega
Mrs. Elyette Poindexter Robertson- Daughter in Law, Miss. Theta of SAE Little Sister, Phi Delta Chapter Chi Omega
Mr. Lawrence Long- Son in Law, Miss. Theta of SAE, 1974
Mr. Denton Rogers- Son in Law, Miss. Theta of SAE, 1968
Mr. Christopher Polk- Grandson, Miss. Theta of SAE, 2005
Mr. Baird Allen- Grandson, Miss. Delta of SAE (Millsaps College), 2009
Mr. Alexander (Xan) Robertson- Nephew, Miss. Theta of SAE, 1972
Mr. Alexander (Xan) Robertson, Jr.- Great Nephew, Miss. Theta of SAE, 1999
Mr. Elliott Robertson- Great Nephew, Miss. Gamma of SAE, 2002, EA Miss. Gamma, 2004