Obituaries – December 31, 2021

Leonard Forsythe Hodges

BERLIN — Leonard “Lenny” Forsythe Hodges, 85, of Berlin, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2021 at Peninsula Regional Hospital in Salisbury.

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Leonard Forsythe Hodges

He was the son of the late Aloysius Coode and Helen Forsythe Hodges. Leonard was the loving husband of the late Sheila Marie Howell, whom he married on April 12, 1958, in Washington, DC. Together they celebrated 60 years of marriage before her passing in March of 2019. Leonard was predeceased by his siblings Dorothy Anne Kessler, Aloysius “Brother” Hodges and Marion Hodges.

Leonard was a 1954 graduate of St. John’s College High School in Washington, DC. He was an accomplished pitcher in his youth and loved playing, coaching and watching sports throughout his life. His greatest joy was attending the games of his six children and 14 grandchildren as they excelled in basketball, football, softball, volleyball, field hockey, swimming, water polo and crew. Leonard also served as a Eucharistic Minister for many years for St John Neumann Catholic Church in Ocean Pines.

He is survived by his daughters, Sharon Repass (Matt), Helen Croghan, Joan Bauk (Daniel), Carolyn Bergamini (Peter), Maureen Slay (Alan), and son, Brian (Michele); grandchildren Megan Repass, Michele Eliopoulos (Alex), Riley and Marie Croghan, Lauren Billingsley (Adam), Colleen Balkam (Jim), Patrick and Christine Bauk, Christine and Paul Bergamini, Ryan and Katie Slay, Joe and Johnny Hodges; and great-grandsons Michael Balkam and Georgie Eliopoulos.

A mass of Christian Burial will be private for the family on Jan. 3, 2022. In lieu of flowers, a memorial contribution may be made to Little Sisters of the Poor, 4200 Harewood Rd., NE Washington, DC 20017-1554. Letters of condolence may be sent via: Arrangements are in the care of the Burbage Funeral Home in Berlin.


Donald L. Roberts

BERLIN — Donald L. Roberts, 87, went to be with the lord and his loving wife Betty on a beautiful Christmas morning.

He served in the U.S Army-Korea from 1955-1957. Donald loved and drove race cars. He worked 40-plus years for Chevy Chase Chevrolet.

He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 40 years, Betty Stinson Roberts, and his parents, Doc and Hilda Roberts.

He is survived by his son, Donald Roberts; four step-children, Frank Prather Jr (Brenda), Teresa Marshall (Richard), Sandra Gilmer (Joseph) and John P. Prather; 12 grandchildren; and 17 great grandchildren. Special thanks to his caregivers Sandy and Fran for the wonderful care.

Services will be private.

Arrangements are in the care of Eastern Shore Cremation and Funeral Service, 504 Franklin Avenue, Berlin, Md. 21811. To send condolences to the family, please visit


Roberta B. Cropper

BISHOPVILLE — With heartfelt sadness, Roberta “Betty” B. Cropper, age 88, of Bishopville, passed away with her loved ones by her side on Thursday, Dec. 23, 2021 at home.

She was born in Salisbury and was the daughter of the late Joshua and Floye (Hudson) Bunting.

Betty was a graduate of the Buckingham High School Class of 1951. Betty was a finance clerk at the Town of Ocean City and was given a key to Ocean City at her retirement. Before working for the Town of Ocean City, she had been a secretary for the former Berlin Milling Co. and also Mumford Sheet Metal Works. She was a member of Wilson United Methodist Church in Bishopville; Women of Wilson and the Bishopville Vol Fire Co. Ladies Auxiliary.

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Roberta B. Cropper

She is survived by her daughter, Sherry C. Harrington and husband KC of Bishopville; two grandchildren, Dale Cropper (Brittany) and Blakelyn Davis (Ethan); three great grandchildren, Leddie and Kingsley Cropper and Paisley Davis; a step great granddaughter, Deliliah Monroe; a daughter-in-law, Ellen Cropper; several nieces and nephews; and grand dog “Nelli”.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Edward “Sykes” Cropper; a son, Eddie D. Cropper; three brothers, her twin, Robert Bunting, Harold Bunting and James Bunting; and a sister, Shirley Baker.

The family would like to thank her caregivers, Ruby Purnell, Marie Purnell and Anna Jacobs, for the great care they gave her.

A funeral service was held Dec. 29 at Wilson United Methodist Church in Bishopville. Burial was in the Bishopville Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to Wilson United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 375, Bishopville, Md. 21813; Bishopville Vol. Fire Co., P.O. Box 350, Bishopville, Md. 21813; or the Atlantic General Hospital Foundation, 9733 Healthway Drive, Berlin, Md. 21811.

Condolences may be sent by visiting


James Owen Ward, Jr.

SELBYVILLE — James Owen Ward, Jr., age 83, died Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021 at his home.

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James Owen Ward, Jr.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of the late James O. Ward, Sr. and Vandetta (Kelly) Ward. He is survived by his wife, Alice Darlene Ward; children Kimberly Dobrzykowski (Daniel) of Eldersburg and James Owen Ward, III (Karen) of Midlothian, Va.; and grandchildren, Addie Nieves, Daniel Dobrzykowski, Makenzy Ward, Kelsey Ward, William Dobrzykowski and Jameson Ward. Also surviving is a brother, John Ward Mary Jane) of Shrewsbury, Pa.; sisters Mary Ward of Texas and Joanne Cottrell (Ernest) of Stewartstown, Pa.; and several nieces and nephews.

Mr. Ward, a United States Marine Veteran, had been owner/operator with his wife, of J.O. Ward Associates in Towson. He was an active volunteer in the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House-by-the-Sea. He loved being with his family and vacationing in Florida.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022 at 11 a.m. at the Burbage Funeral Home in Berlin. Rev. Syd Stewart will officiate. Friends may call one hour prior to the service. In lieu of flowers, a donation in his memory may be made to Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House-by-the-Sea, P.O. Box 3627, Ocean City, Md. 21843. Letters of condolence may be sent via .


James Lee Purnell, Jr.

BERLIN — James Lee Purnell, Jr., 84, of Berlin, departed this life on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, at TidalHealth Peninsula Regional in Salisbury.

Born in Berlin, he was the son of the late James Lee Purnell, Sr. and Hulda McCray Purnell. He was a member of St. Paul United Methodist Church in Berlin, where he served as a member of the United Methodist Men and Past-Administrative Council President. He was also a member of the Lincoln Lodge No. 53 F. & A.M., Eastern Star, Worcester County Board of Health, and Worcester County NAACP, where he served as Past-President and Vice-President of the Maryland Chapter.

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James Lee Purnell, Jr.

Mr. Purnell was a Worcester County School Bus Contractor for 41 years and Worcester County Commissioner for 20 years. He was the first black Worcester County Commissioner, President, and Vice-President. He was inducted into the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in 2016.

He had several other jobs to include Sunshine Laundry, Clifton Cannon Ford, truck driver for Harry C. Burton and James Hartman, and drapery installer.

Loving memories will be cherished by his wife, Clemeth Purnell; three brothers, Osie Henry, Gerald Purnell, Sr. (Lillian), and Benjamin Purnell, Sr. (Laura); two sisters, Patricia Hingleton and Bertha C. Purnell; a special brother, James Bud Church (Allyson); four godchildren, Kimberly Chase-Longus (Ernest), Geneva Green (Stanley), Cindy Green, and Ashley Purnell Foreman (Samuel); and several nephews, nieces, cousins, other relatives, in-laws, and friends.

Mr. Purnell will lie in repose on Friday, Dec. 31, 2021, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Lewis N. Watson Funeral Home, P.A., 1618 West Road, Salisbury and Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022, from 10 to 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church Family Life & Cultural Center, 528 Booth Street, Salisbury. On Saturday, the funeral service will begin at 11 a.m. Interment will follow at St. Paul’s Cemetery, 10543 Assateague Road, Berlin. If you wish to sign the guestbook, please do so online on the funeral home’s website.