Joseph Spencer Stewart was an 1849 graduate of Emory College in Oxford, Georgia. At the beginning of the Civil War, JSS was the Principal of the Preparatory School for Emory. After the war, the hardware firm of Tommey, Stewart & Beck was formed in Atlanta, Georgia. Operating at the corner of Pryor and Decatur Streets, the business prospered as it sent a dozen salesmen across the South. For years, Joseph Stewart took the train from Covington to Atlanta every Monday and spent the work week at his store. His loyalty remained with his alma mater and he was a trustee for Emory College for some 30 years. Stewart always kept an eye out for aspiring young men worthy of a college education. Many of the student boarders at the Stewart House in Oxford were charity cases paid for by JSS. One of those students was James William Roberts, who married the businessman's daughter, Clifford Rebecca Stewart, in 1877. The spirit of philanthropy set by Joseph Spencer Stewart continues today with the Roberts Foundation.
James William Roberts was born in Dalton, Georgia in 1852. His father died in the Civil War when he was ten years-old. JWR graduated at the top of his class at Emory College in 1877. He served as Pastor of various Methodist Churches across Georgia including St. Johns in Augusta and Trinity Methodist in Atlanta. In 1899, JWR became President of Wesleyan College in Macon, the alma mater of his wife Clifford Rebecca Stewart. Dr. Roberts was a noted orator and scholar. He died in Atlanta in 1917 and is buried at the Oxford Historical Cemetery in Newton County, Georgia. The Macon Telegraph editorialized that, "In the death of Dr. J.W. Roberts, Georgia Methodism loses one of its ablest ministers, and Georgia scholarship one of its most brilliant lights."
Born in Oxford, Georgia in 1878, Stewart Ralph Roberts was the oldest child of James & Clifford Roberts. SRR graduated from the Atlanta College of Physicians & Surgeons in 1900, and Emory College in 1902. He settled in Atlanta and served as Professor of Clinical Medicine at Emory and conducted a vigorous practice in internal medicine at the Roberts Clinic until his death in 1941. During World War I, SRR was a Lt-Colonel in command of the Base Hospital at Fort Jackson. Dr. Roberts was a prolific writer of both medical & historical subjects. He published 12 papers on neurology and psychiatry and 20 papers on cardiovascular disease. His 1912 book on the etiology of pellagra was the first major American study of a disease that particularly afflicted Southerners. SRR was the president of the Southern Medical Society in 1924 and the American Heart Association in 1933. He is buried next to his wife, Ruby Holbrook, at the Oxford Historical Cemetery in Newton County, Georgia.