Trucking giant founder passes away in Florida


WILMINGTON — A founder of one of the area’s biggest and most noted businesses has passed.

Ralph L. “Larry” Roberts, Sr., 77, passed peacefully on March 19, in Ocala, Fla., after a battle with dementia.

Greg Bronner, Vice President of Marketing & Business Critical Sales of R+L Carriers, told the News Journal, “We lost a great man this weekend that had a tremendous positive impact on so many lives locally as well as globally. His footprint will be recognized for generations to come not only from a transportation industry perspective but the impact he had on the R+L Carriers Family of nearly 18,000 employees.”

Mr. Roberts, affectionately referred to as “Senior,” was born Aug. 23, 1945, in Wilmington, Ohio. He was one of six children, two preceded him in death.

He married Mary D. Snider on Nov. 2, 1963, and enjoyed three children from this marriage. He leaves to cherish his loving memory three children: Michelle Carpenter of Ocala, Fla.; Ralph L. Roberts, Jr. and wife Terri of Wilmington; and Roby L. Roberts and wife Jennifer of Ocala, Fla. Senior loved and enjoyed his family and grandchildren and is survived by seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

He started in the trucking business in 1965 with a single Ford truck. In a story published in the News Journal in 1990, Roberts helped people move household furnishings across town or across the county, in between his hours working at Irwin Auger Bit.

Roberts then hooked up with Mayflower, another step in growing into a big-time, nationally-known trucking line. Roberts first “warehouse” was behind his home on Locust Street. The business moved to Ludovic Street and then to an eight-dock location on Nelson Avenue. The ever-growing company had to relocate to US 22 and 3 and then to its present location near I-71 as it reaches its place of prominence in the trucking business nationwide.

A driver himself, Senior understood how values shape the work of drivers, dock workers and office staff. Family, service, safety, and quality. These four attributes were vital in 1965 when Senior started the business and they remain essential today.

R+L Carriers maintains these values, which contributed to the overall company culture. The future of R+L Carriers is in good hands. While the first employee has now passed, more 18,000 hardworking employees continue the advancement, values, and traditions of the company. As an extremely private person, Senior requested to be remembered for his legacy and asked that the family not have a memorial or funeral service.

In the 1990 News Journal story, Roberts said he loved the trucking business, days of 14 or more hours on site were not uncommon. He enjoyed seeing trucks leave on their way to make another deliver for a happy customer.

“You know what they say,” Roberts was quoted in the News Story almost 32 years ago, “Once you get a whiff of that diesel smell, you never out grow it.”

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