Employees and residents of the Harlan Health and Rehabilitation Center are in mourning because one of its most beloved residents, Eddie Roark, passed away a few days ago. He was a friend to all of the patients there and known by everyone as “Mr. Nice Guy.” Not anyone had a derogatory thing to say about Eddie who was so helpful and spoke well of every one he met.
A resident at the nursing home for several years, it took Eddie no time at all to make friends with every new patient or visitor. As the saying goes, “he never met a stranger.” He took an active role in all of the facility’s recreational activities, especially the game of “Corn Hole” at which he was an expert and usually a tournament champion.
Eddie looked forward to every holiday and threw himself into the celebrations by dressing up appropriately. For instance, he delighted in dressing in costume for Halloween, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day and other holidays. In addition, he loved to dance and was good at it.
Eddie had a passion for auto racing. He and his friend, Ramsey Carroll, were avid fans and usually had a one dollar bet on each race. The two were the best of friends. They were as close as brothers and enjoyed so many activities together. Of all the many friends Eddie had, I feel confident in saying Ramsey will miss him the most.
A true blue UK Wildcat fan, Eddie never missed watching a basketball game. On game days, you could always find him dressed in Kentucky blue and planted in front of the lobby television. If you walked by, right off the top of his head, he could give you all the stats and bring you up to date.
Eddie and Ramsey playfully purchased scratch-off lottery cards every week. Strangely enough, Eddie often won a few bucks. Over the long haul, I would venture to say he lost more greenback than he won.
Through all of Eddie’s physical challenges and illnesses, I never heard him complain. Eddie wasn’t the “poor, pitiful me” type. If one asked “How ya doing?” he would cheerfully reply “better” and quickly change the subject to something more positive. What a rare and wonderful quality.
In the dining room, Eddie’s chair has remained empty since his death. The front porch gang is a little less cheerful. As you can see, he had an enormous effect on all of the folks at the nursing home. He was happy there and he gave the impression of just loving everyone he met. Eddie was unique, one-of-a-kind. He will be missed for years to come.