Coal Grove ‘icon’ Roush dies at 86

Published 10:31 am Monday, October 22, 2012

COAL GROVE — The Coal Grove community center has carried his name for years, but Hayward Jae Roush’s impact and legacy goes far beyond just a building.

The 86-year-old community leader died Oct. 20, leaving behind many friends, families and neighbors who all say they are better for knowing him.

As president of the Coal Grove Betterment Club, Vickie McDaniel and her husband, Mayor Larry McDaniel, have seen first-hand what drove Roush to work so hard to make a difference.

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“He was just a special person. … He was always there,” Vickie said. “He loved the community.”

Roush was named as one of The Tribune’s “Unsung Heroes” in 2011. In his nomination, Larry McDaniel talked about how Roush always worked tirelessly behind the scenes and never wanted any credit for it.

“He always helps us at the park, with the Fourth of July Fun Day and when we put up the Christmas decorations, he’s always there,” McDaniel said. “He does all the electrical work. And if there’s anything that needs to be fixed in the park, usually Jae fixes it. Before I can get up there or send someone up there to fix it. He’s already fixed it. I think he told me he’s been helping at the park for 21 years. In the neighborhood, like if there is a widow lady or someone, he’s always out cutting someone’s grass. He just likes to do civic duties.”

Roush served his community, but he also served his country. The man was a veteran of the U.S. Army during World War II. He was also an active member of the Memorial United Methodist Church of Coal Grove.

As a long-time Coal Grove resident, Tom Carey has worked with Roush over the years. Needless to say, he always came away impressed with a man he called a great thinker.

“Jae Roush is an icon in Coal Grove. One of the finest men you could meet,” Carey said. “If you wanted something done in this village you didn’t have to go farther than Jae Roush. If Jae Roush was for it, it got done. That is what kind of leader he was and what the community thought of him.”

The village and its citizens may not realize how much they will miss Roush because of all the little things he did without any recognition, Carey said.

“There are lots of spokes that make the Betterment Club and others go. Jae Roush was the axle of the wheel. You can go without a few spokes, but you cannot go without the axle,” Carey said. “He didn’t play favorites and was always just concerned with what was best for the village.”

Vickie McDaniel agreed that Roush’s passing leaves big shoes to fill and that he will never be forgotten. She is planning on a special memorial tribute in Paul Porter Park when the Christmas decorations are lit.

“He’d go up there every night just to make sure every light was on,” she said. “He loved the park at Christmastime.”

It is only right that he be recognized during this year’s lighting ceremony, she said.

For a full obituary, see page 4.