Roy Lee Southerland was born in Richlands, North Carolina, in 1942. He attended J. T. Barber High School in New Bern, North Carolina, from which he graduated in May of 1960. In September of the same year, Southerland attended Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, for one year, after which he joined the United States Navy. He entered boot camp at North Island in San Diego, California, and was then assigned to the aircraft carriers USS Iwo Jima (for helicopters) and USS Constellation. Southerland was also stationed in Bremerton, Washington. Six months later, he was transferred to a naval air station in Lemoore, California. There, he was assigned to air squadron VA 144 as an aviation jet engine mechanic. Southerland is a veteran of the Vietnam War, and was involved in the first naval air strike from the USS Constellation. In February of 1965, he was discharged from the Navy. A month later, he enrolled in classes at North Carolina A&T College in Greensboro, North Carolina.
In 1966, Southerland became a Groove. He was a charter member of the Aggie Chapter and served as that chapter’s president for three years. Later, he became the second National President. During his tenure, Groove soared to new heights, enjoying an increasing number of new members.
Southerland has had a successful professional career. He worked for several Fortune 500 companies, including General Electric, Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Xerox Corporation, Investor’s Diversified Services, General Motor Corporation, and, most recently, Bausch & Lomb, from which he retired in 1999.
Southerland was married and has seven children: Yuri, Leora, Nia, Erica, Tyra, Ashley, and Dana. In his free time, he enjoys traveling abroad and connecting with Groove members.