October 30, 1918 ~ January 8, 2011
John W. Rozier, 92, of Atlanta died at his home on January 8. In his long life he was a war veteran, diplomat, journalist and historian. He was a native of Hancock County, Georgia, where his kin have lived since the 1790s. His hometown of Sparta was never far from his heart. He earned a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, from Emory University and after Pearl Harbor volunteered for the Navy where he served as an officer in the amphibious 8th Fleet in the Mediterranean on a new type of assault vessel, the Landing Craft Tank. LCTs under his command won four battle stars for the invasions of Sicily, Salerno, Anzio and Southern France. At Sicily his LCT-34 was part of the largest amphibious operation of World War II in sheer area with an invasion front of over 100 miles. At Salerno LCT-34 landed soldiers of the British Hampshire Regiment on heavily defended beaches with Mt. Vesuvius flaring in the distance. LCT-34 can be seen in a fleeting camera pan of the Salerno beachhead in a segment of Ken Burns's documentary The War. During the weeks of perilous operations in Anzio harbor, in the first month LCT-34 was under air attack over 90 times, in addition to dodging artillery fire from the Germans' fearsome railroad guns, Anzio Annie and Anzio Express. After the war he returned to Emory for an M.A. before joining the State Department where he served as a Foreign Service Officer in Korea, China and Lebanon. A widely published wire service photo of ceremonies inaugurating the Korean Republic in 1948 delighted friends and family who recognized him with General MacArthur and Syngman Rhee. He was among the last American officials to evacuate China in October 1949, leaving Chungking with a cash-filled embassy satchel manacled to his wrist. His two years in Beirut were among the happiest and most memorable of his life. He left government in 1952 and bought the weekly Wrightsville, GA, Headlight, which he published with his wife, Dorothy. He later owned the Henrico County Herald in Richmond, VA, before moving to Atlanta to work at the Constitution when Ralph McGill was editor. He returned to his alma mater in 1959 and was in charge of public information at Emory for two decades. For his work he was honored by the National College Public Relations Association. For his campus service he was honored with election to the national leadership fraternity ODK and was made an honorary member of Emory's debating team, the Barclay Forum. He received Emory's Alumni Award of Honor in 1978 and in 2007 the Distinguished Emeritus Award from Emory's Senior University. He won a National Endowment for the Humanities grant in 1978 to research political developments in his old home county. The result was Black Boss: Political Revolution in a Georgia County, published by the University of Georgia Press in 1982. In 1988 UGa. Press published The Granite Farm Letters, an edited collection of Civil War letters that won the Georgia Author of the Year Award in Southern Culture and the Confederate Memorial Literary Society Award for Outstanding Scholarship. His last book was The Houses of Hancock 1785-1865, a study of historical buildings in the county, a second edition of which benefitted the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Dorothy Evans Rozier, and his son John Paul of Decatur, a sister Frances Birdsong and a brother Louis, both of Sparta, and a brother, Charles, of Washington, DC, as well as many nieces and nephews. A memorial service will be held at The Little Chapel of Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church, 1660 N. Decatur Rd., Atlanta, at 2:00 p.m. on Sat., Jan. 22. Another service will be held in Sparta in the spring. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library MARBL of Emory University, Atlanta 30322-2870.