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Past Tense

Opinion: Carlton Renfroe loved to share history

Carlton Renfroe and his family moved to Dunwoody permanently in 1941. His father bought their Tilly Mill Road home in 1925, but his mother refused to move there until the road was paved and electricity and phone service were available. This is just one of the many memories of Carlton Renfroe I enjoyed hearing. Mr. Renfroe passed away Sept. 25, 2021, and he will be missed.

He was born at the family home in Atlanta in 1931, at the corner of Techwood Drive and Harris Street. When his parents and five siblings moved to Dunwoody, the children began attending Dunwoody School. He had fond memories of the school and its teachers, recalling, “Each teacher knew how to play the piano…we’d sing a lot.”

Carlton Renfroe

Carlton Renfroe in a photo during his service in the Korean War.

Renfroe described himself as an outsider in Dunwoody in those early years because everyone knew everyone and were related. The older families had married into other nearby families. So, as he described it, “there were a lot of cousins.” His best friend was Jeff Porter, whose family moved on land in 1939 that is today home to Marcus Jewish Community Center, so they were a new family as well.

He had memories of attending Christmas services at Dunwoody Methodist Church and swimming in the pool built into the creek along Vermack Road.

He and Jeff Porter joined the first Boy Scouts troop in Dunwoody. The troop began in 1947, under the leadership of Reynolds Green with assistance from Hugh Spruill.

I called on Carlton Renfroe often to share his memories, and in 2017 Dunwoody Preservation Trust recorded him telling those stories. He remembered listening to the radio with his family the day of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. His father was a plumber who worked at Lawson General Army Hospital in Chamblee. That work gave his parents access to more fuel than most people. “People didn’t ride much back then, because they didn’t have any gas.”

After graduating from Chamblee High School in 1950, Renfroe served during the Korean War. He was injured by shrapnel and spent a month in the hospital. Renfroe was in the National Guard through 1985.

In 1953, he married Margaret Louise Copeland of Dunwoody. They raised four children in the Tilly Mill Road home.

Renfroe leaves behind his wife of 11 years, Mildred Carter Renfroe, four children, four siblings, five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

He came to Brook Run Park on two occasions during Lemonade Days to help me greet people stopping by the Dunwoody Preservation Trust history booth. I always told him it meant so much more to people to hear the stories directly from the source. He was a good storyteller.

You can email Valerie at pasttensega@gmail.com or visit her website at pasttensega.com.