The world just lost one of the few remaining Montford Point Marines. Mr./Elder/Sergeant Samuel L. Belton, USMC, 97, passed peacefully on August 30, 2021. A long-time resident of Walterboro, SC, Samuel Belton spent his final days at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center, in Charleston, SC. Originating from a hip fracture, Mr. Belton’s hospitalization became a four-month battle with difficult and painful health issues. Throughout this time, Mr. Belton remained positive, told his infamous stories and continued to express thought and love toward his family, even in his final hours.
The eldest son of Mr. Climpson and Mrs. Retha Stephens-Belton, Sam was born in Ruffin, SC, on May 16, 1924. Sadly, he is preceded in his trip to Heaven by his wife of 65 years, Aruth “Ruth” Belton; daughters, Karen and Venetha; son, Willie; brother, Andrew; sister, Oree; and granddaughter Megee.
He is survived by daughter Carolyn and son-in-law William Kalaskie, Colorado Springs, CO; son, Jerome Belton and daughter-in-law (Jackie Whitman), Castle Hayne, NC; brothers and sisters: Ida M. Washington, White Plains, NY; Iris N. Syphrette, Orangeburg, SC; Gemmalia A. Belton, Yonkers, NY; Archie B. Belton, Ruffin, SC; Alice B. Jackson, Ruffin; Grant Belton, White Plains; Myrna Moore, Ruffin; Gerald Malachi Belton, Bronx, NY; Richard (and Dot) Belton, Ruffin; Valdosta Belton, Mt. Vernon, NY; and Rose (McCarthy) Jones, Orangeburg; daughter-in-law, Deanna Gibson, Columbus, OH; and grandchildren, Vanessa Grant, Varnville, SC; Tia Harris, Delray Beach, FL; Brandon Kalaskie, Colorado Springs, CO; Christin Breed, Dallas, TX; Juston, Tyrone, Daniel, and Joshua Belton, all of Castle Hayne, NC; and many, cherished great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren, numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.
Sam, a Montford Port Marine from the “git-go,” enlisted in the US Marine Corp in 1941 at the age of 17 while the US military was still a segregated organization. Following President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 8802, he was one of the initial cadre of black Marines to build and establish Montford Point Camp, at Jacksonville, NC. This was the first USMC installation built to house and train African American men to become United States Marines. Sam was proud to be awarded a Congressional Gold Medal, in 2012, authorized by the US congress under President Barack Obama, for his dedicated service as a Montford Point Marine. “Sergeant” Belton, a driver for much of his time in “the Corps,” lived to tell about surviving two life-threatening explosions in his time in the Marines--the first, in Japan, during WWII, and the second, a few years later during the Korean Conflict. Extremely proud of his USMC heritage, Sam could always be seen wearing his USMC ball cap and jacket and displaying USMC license plate holders on his vehicles.
Before relocating to Walterboro, Mr. Belton and his family lived for years in Morgantown, WV, where he served first as major domo for eminent Morgantown attorney Stanley Cox and his family. He was soon chosen to be in charge of maintenance for the West Virginia University Athletic Coliseum and Hospital Complex, there in Morgantown. During his years in West Virginia, Sam also pastored the Jerome Park Pentecostal Church of Christ in the Jerome Park neighborhood of Morgantown. Sam was “right with the Lord” for many, many decades and his Bible could be seen next to his chair “24/7/365” in the family living room.
Sam will be laid to rest next to Aruth at the Belton Family Cemetery in Ruffin, SC. In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to “Abundant Giving” of Wilmington, NC in the name of Elder Samuel Lee Belton. Donations can be mailed to Abundant Giving, 509 Millhouse Road, Castle Hayne, NC, 28429. Condolences may be sent to 8245 Brigantine Dr., Colorado Springs, CO 80920.
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