Conway Church of God Senior Pastor Stuart Jacobs said that Robert Rabon could get more done in a few phone calls than most people could get done in a 40-hour workweek.
“He could make things happen. ‘God and Country’ was his element and he loved that,” Pastor Jacobs said during Rabon's live-streamed funeral on Monday.
Rabon, former Horry County Republican Party chairman, passed away on Nov. 13 at the age of 70 due to complications from COVID-19.
Rabon wore many hats, growing up as the son of a sharecropper and believing that with hard work, anything was possible.
He served on the Horry County Higher Education Commission from 1986 to 1998, served as chair of the commission from 1990 to 1991 and served on the Coastal Carolina University Board of Trustees from 1998 to 2009, according to the university.
He also served as the campaign chair for the penny sales tax for Horry-Georgetown Technical College, Coastal Carolina University and Horry County Schools, according to CCU.
What I enjoyed most about my friend Robert Rabon was sitting back and watching the effects of his "sneaky smarts." Anyone in Horry County who underestimated Robert because they didn't think him 'sophisticated,' always came away with a hard lesson,” said Dr. Oran Smith, who served on the CCU board with Rabon. “In a discussion, he made you think he was a step behind, but was always at least one step ahead! He epitomized what some have called the key to JOY, Jesus first, then Others, then Yourself.”
Seth Rabon, Robert’s son, spoke lovingly Monday during his father’s memorial service at Conway Church of God.
Seth said when he arrived at the pulpit that he didn't want people to expect him to speak as well as his father, who “always had a good corny joke to crack.”
He also spoke of his father’s work ethic, which he passed on to his children.
“A few years ago, he told his doctors he had to get better because he had six jobs to do, I was always telling him to slow down,” Seth said. “We never doubted how proud he was of us because he always made sure to tell us.”
Rabon’s daughter, Amanda Rabon, said her father had been on dialysis and had not been feeling well for quite a while.
She recalled some fond memories, saying that with Rabon working in sales, he always won a lot of trips, so many of their most precious memories were vacations to places like Australia, Hawaii, Ireland, and England.
“Some of our most special times was when we got him away from work and had him all to ourselves. Daddy was such a history buff, we didn’t get to ‘vacation’ on vacation because he wanted to soak in as much as he could,” Ms. Rabon said, noting that her father had always wanted to go to Alaska and they were able to make that happen back in 2017.
She said that in addition to being "Daddy" and "Poppy", during his days in sales some coworkers would call him “Magic Man”.
“Everytime he came in the room, he could work his magic and make the sale,” Ms. Rabon said.
Pastor Jacobs read letters during the service from a few of Rabon’s former colleagues and friends who could not speak in person at the services.
“I had the great fortune of knowing him for over 50 years. He always had his priorities in order – faith, family, and friends. Horry County will never have another patron like Robert again,” said former CCU trustee Billy Alford in a letter read by Jacobs. “CCU has been blessed with national champions, and Robert, you are one of them.”
Governor Henry McMaster talked about Rabon on social media following the news of his passing.
“We will always remember Robert’s warm smile, hearty handshake, and fierce loyalty to his friends, family and state,” McMaster tweeted.
Horry County Republican Party chair Dreama Perdue said via letter that Rabon will be missed.
“He has been Mr. Republican Party for many years. He was my mentor,” Perdue wrote.
His son Seth said that his father always told him that whenever he was gone, that he should be sure and take care of the family.
“I promised him I would, but I didn’t realize how big the shoes were that I had to fill, and I didn’t realize how long his arms really were to keep us all together,” Seth said. “He wanted to make the world a better place and he did.”
Rabon’s full obituary is available by clicking HERE.