WILLOW WOOD — After months of fighting pneumonia, Thomas “Poppy” Joseph Roche, 86, died Tuesday, June 8, 2010, at Mount Carmel West Hospital in Columbus.
He was born on May 29, 1924, in Peabody, Mass., to Margaret and Frank Roche. Tom served in the United States Navy from 1943-51. He also served in the United States Air Force from 1951-63 where he earned the rank of technical sergeant with medals of National Defense Service, Longevity Service Award and Good Conduct.
On April 28, 1956, Tom married Helen (Leni) Gestal. They lived in many places raising a family, including New York, Maine, Louisiana, Germany, and Virginia, before settling on a farm in Willow Wood. Tom was a member of the Federal Aviation Administration where he worked as an air traffic control specialist from 1967-86. He also taught air traffic control classes in Oklahoma during the summer of 1986. He spent his later years farming and raising a variety of animals. Tom was a member of St. Lawrence O’Toole Church in Ironton. He was a volunteer with 4-H for 25 years and also volunteered with the Symmes Valley Athletic Boosters for 22 years.
Tom is survived by his seven children, Michael Joseph Roche of Willow Wood, Cynthia Marie Olari of Columbus, Jacqueline Ann and John Schmittauer of Delaware, Ohio, Maria Elena and Ernie Brumfield of South Point, Charles Thomas and Jackie Roche of Willow Wood, Pamela Joyce and Willie Noble of South Point, and Edward Thomas Roche of Chillicothe. His 13 grandchildren include Amy Marie Schmittauer, Alisha Marie Bridges, Kari Jo Schmittauer, Nicole Elaine Olari, Heath Robert Bridges, Kevin Andrew Davis, Christopher Joseph Noble, Thomas Anthony Noble, Brandon Matthew Noble, Johnny David Schmittauer, Jimmy Richard Schmittauer, Melanie Antonia Noble, Sammy Jo Roche and one great-granddaughter Kelly Ann Schmittauer.
Mass will be 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Lawrence O’Toole Church. Burial will be in Calvary Cemetery, Coal Grove. Visiting hours will be from 6-9 p.m. Friday at O’Keefe & Baker Funeral Home. The family wishes to thank the following medical facilities that worked hard to help and support Tom and his family: Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., King’s Daughters Medical Center, Ashland, Ky.,
Regency Manor Rehabilitation & Subacute, Columbus, Mount Carmel West Hospital, Columbus, Select Specialty Hospital (Mount Carmel Campus), Columbus.