Mr. Marshall worked with Mr. Boortz for 17 years. He and Ms. Skelton were interviewed for a board operator job at WSB radio at the same time and were both hired for the one position because the station couldn’t choose between them, Ms. Skelton said.
They later joined the Boortz show.
Mr. Marshall was a father of two girls — 2-year-old Ava and 4-year-old Amira. Friends recalled his devotion to them and his wife, Annette.
“There was the single Royal who loved to have fun. Then there was the, ‘I’ve met this girl I knew in high school and we’ve become reaquainted and now we’re getting married,’” Mr. Boortz recalled. “All of a sudden it was a different Royal Marshall. I’ve known a lot of family men. I’ve known a lot of people dedicated to their wives. I’ve never known anyone devoted to his wife like Royal.”
Mr. Boortz said everything came in a distant second to his family. Last Christmas, Mr. Boortz and the rest of the staff for the show took a day-trip to New York, but Mr. Marshall declined because he wanted to be with his daughters.
“When they are adults, they will barely have known their father,” Mr. Boortz said. “There’s got to be a way to memorialize Royal.”
Arrangements had not been announced late Saturday.
Condace Pressley, assistant program director for WSB radio, said it was too soon to pinpoint a cause of death.
“He was a good man,” she said. “I can’t believe he’s gone.”
If he loved you, you knew it, said his pastor, the Rev. Cynthia Hale of Ray of Hope Christian Church.
"He showed his love for people." Rev. Hale said. "You didn’t have to guess."
But he also was a teaser.
"He always picked at people," the Rev. Hale said.
But mostly he was "faithful... As a young man at the church, he did whatever we needed him to do. He was so supportive... He was always there for anyone who needed him... He listened with his heart."
Royal Marshall was born in St. Louis, and he graduated from the University of Georgia in 1992.
He also hosted his own radio talk show called “The Royal Treatment” in 1996 and it ran for several years, mostly at night.
“Royal had an unmatched sense of humor and a quick mind that made him a natural for radio, and his dedication to his colleagues and friends was only exceeded by his intense dedication to his family,” Mr. Boortz said.
Mr. Marshall was a deacon at the Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur and chair of the national advisory board at Forever Family, a nonprofit organization that helps children who have incarcerated parents.
Mr. Marshall also dabbled in stand-up comedy at The Punchline for a few years.
“He had an easy way with people and was very comfortable with the mic,” said Jamie Bendall, who owns The Punchline comedy club. “I thought he was a natural.”
Mr. Boortz and Ms. Skelton were still emotional, finding it hard to speak of their friend even hours after his death.
“My heart is just completely broken,” Mr. Boortz, weeping, said when he called in to speak on a special radio show Saturday afternoon to memorialize Mr. Marshall.
Mr. Boortz said he told his wife, ‘Darn it, I loved him like a brother.’”
She replied, “ ‘You loved him like a son. He was like a son to you that you never had.’”
Staff writer Rodney Ho contributed to this article.