Robert Lewis Shoto, the oldest child of Lemmie Shoto, Sr. and Earlene Johnson Shoto was granted eternal peace on September 29, 2021. He spent the first two years of life in the loving arms of his grandparents, Frank and Anna Johnson, in Pearson, MS (now Pearl, MS). Upon returning to his parents and as the years passed, he developed a high level of confidence. At Brinkley Sr. High School, he was a pitcher for the baseball team and at Utica Jr. College. While still a teenager, his love for baseball led him to assist his coach during the summer baseball league at Grove Park baseball fields in Jackson, MS. At 17, his voice could be heard regularly on the public address system doing the play‑by‑play commentary for the nightly summer games. His 13 year old brother, Arthur Ray, thought that he was just as good or better than announcers for pro baseball games, when Ray heard him for the 1st time at 19 years old.
After he aged out as a player of his team, the Warriors, of the summer baseball league for 13‑15 year olds, he continued as assistant coach and eventually became head coach of the team. Under his direction, his team won a number of championships and many baseball trophies. He seemed to be a natural for a career in coaching or sports announcing but that path never evolved. He worked factory jobs and married Frankie Davis of Bolton, MS in his early twenties and their daughter, Kendra Dione, was born in 1974.
In 1975, the State of MS integrated the teenage baseball leagues. Black fields were supposed to be equally equipped as White baseball fields and Whites should play Blacks. However, the Whites did not want to play Blacks and the night lights were removed from Grove Park the park was closed. And the Blacks started playing games at Battlefield Park on Hwy 80W. Also, at that time, Robert and his 1st cousin Michael "Bo" Shoto (who was also a winning championship baseball coach) combined their teams to become "the Rams". The combined coaches won their championship class that year and was to play a "White" team for the MS State Championship, but the White team refused to play the "Black" Rams! Robert's coaching career ended in 1975 and Bo went into the U.S. Coast Guard making a career of it, doing 3‑year stints at various U.S. port cities (including in Hawaii and Alaska) until his retirement from the Coast Guard.
Robert was an avid Jackson State University (JSU) sports fan and also "pro" baseball, football, and basketball...and he could talk some sports!
Prior to his father's death, Lemmie's health began to fail and Robert helped him perform his burial insurance agent duties for Peoples Funeral Home for a year or so. His father was a devoted church‑goer and Robert helped him to continue his every Sunday church service until Lemmie's health no longer allowed him this pleasure. Robert became the primary caregiver of his father who could barely walk and was nearly blind until his death in 2003.
Upon his father's death, Robert continued the practice of Sunday services at Mt. Elam M.B. Church for 18 years until Robert's health failed. The church was founded in 1841 by his 2x great‑grandfather, Archie Choteau, a "free" half‑French mulatto and men slaves of the Pearson, MS (now Pearl, MS) community. Archie spoke fluent French and broken English; and years later, in 1883, he changed "Choteau" to "SHOTO". Family history says that Robert (Yand Bo) was also the 3x great‑grandson of the 1st Black U.S. Senator (from Mississippi), Hiram Rhodes Revels. Before the civil war, he was arrested in St. Louis, Missouri for preaching to slaves. Revels was also Chaplin of a Colored U.S. Civil War Union Regiment (taking part in the Battle of Vicksburg and becoming Provost Marshall of Vicksburg, MS after martial law was declared); the 1st & 3rd Presidents of Alcorn College (9 years; now Alcorn State University) Lorman, MS B Mississippi=s 1st college for African‑American students; and Secretary of State for Mississippi (a brief time).
Even in old age, the legacy of Robert's baseball coaching abilities were honored by former players and admirers. Several testimonials follow:
× A coached player/coach of the Jr. Warriors/future cameraman for WLBT TV News stated "don't nobody know more about baseball than Sho";
× Jackson, MS neighbor referred to Robert as a "baseball coach legend";
× Four or five years ago, a chance meeting, by Ray, of a funeral‑goer cheered Robert as a coach who tutored many teenage baseball players so well that they received college scholarships due to their baseball fundamentals & skills. The stranger stated that a community or city award should be given to Robert; and in an unrelated testimonial
× An 80+ year old Pearl, MS relative stated that his grandfather, Frank Johnson Sr. was regarded as a great fast‑ball pitcher.
After his mother's death in 1987, current neighbors of now 59 years, Mrs. Dorothy Mennefield provided he and his father with Thanksgiving dinner for years. After Lemmie's 2003 death, she continued to provide Thanksgiving dinner for Robert until her health no longer permitted it. Another neighbor, Mrs. Louise Thigpen provided a loving watchful eye for the well‑being of the now old, sole occupant, and fragile Robert. Thank you so much, neighbors!
Robert was preceded in death by his parents, brother, Lemmie Shoto Jr. (1976), and his daughter, Kendra Dione Shoto (2005). He is survived by his brothers: Arthur Ray (Jennifer) Shoto of Ridgeland, MS and Earl Willard Shoto of Madison, MS; one aunt, Mrs. Lizzie Mae (Ray) Cox of Milwaukee, WI; Frankie Shoto and Brenna Shoto; and a host of relatives and friends.
Funeral services for Mr. Robert Shoto will be at Mt. Elam Baptist Church, 701 Old Whitfield Rd, Pearl, Mississippi at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, October 9, 2021 with his final resting place being, Mt. Elam Cemetery.
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