Cover photo for James E. Roark's Obituary
James E. Roark Profile Photo
1927 James 2019

James E. Roark

April 5, 1927 — September 12, 2019

Jim and Arlene Roark were married on July 1, 1950, in the home of Arlene’s mother, Vera Willey. After a brief honeymoon they set up housekeeping at 214 Oakland Ave. in Mtn. Grove, Missouri. Arlene went to work at Brown Shoe Company while Jim began his forty-two year career with Western Light & Telephone Company. Soon after their marriage, Jim put his work on hold because he was drafted into the United States Army where he served from September 1950 to January 1952. During his tour of duty, he was a Staff Sargent in Korea with the 7th Division 31st Regiment 3rd Battalion for which he was honored with combat ribbons and several medals for his leadership. As with most Veterans who have been in combat, Jim didn’t like to talk about his time in the service. The only thing he would say is, “I won’t eat rice.” Jim was a quiet man, but that was fine because Arlene could talk for them both. While he was serving his country, Arlene lived with her mother and continued to work hard. She was a woman who set goals and delighted in their accomplishments. For example, Arlene was proud that she was able to save enough money while Jim was away to buy an entire bedroom suit from a local furniture store with her earnings. Arlene and Jim were married for 69 years and 74 days; the bedroom suit that Arlene bought was the one they used until the day they could no longer live at home.

Jim and Arlene had two sons. James Daniel, born in 1953 and Gary Wayne in 1956. Jim’s work with the telephone company dictated where their family would reside. They had homes in Mtn. Grove, Cabool, Mt. Vernon, Mtn. Grove again from 1960 till the late 70s, and West Plains. Jim’s roles at the telephone company evolved from lineman to office manager. After 42 years of dedicated service he retired. He and Arlene then moved back to Mtn. Grove to be close to their sons and grandchildren.

Arlene worked hard to serve her community as a secretary at both the First Christian Church and Mtn. Grove Schools’ Superintendent’s office. She took her role as mother and wife very seriously and made sure that Jim could come home to a clean house, clean laundry, a good meal, and two little boys who were happy to see their dad walk through that door every evening. Arlene loved to tell the story of the day she enrolled James in Mtn. Grove Schools. Until the time he was 9 years old, the family had called James “Danny”. She thought having two “Jims” would be confusing so it was decided he would be called by his middle name. She remembered how he had marched into the principal’s office, and announced that from then on his name would be James. She thought he was joking around but found out soon enough that he was very serious. She would laugh as she recalled that James stopped answering to “Danny”, and he never even turned his head when their family and friends called him anything but James. She would say he was so stubborn that nothing would change his mind. He wanted to have the same name as his father. And that was that. Her pregnancy with Gary was challenging due to complications. She was so profoundly thankful that God allowed her to keep this precious baby that she lovingly referred to Gary as her miracle baby.

Arlene was fiercely loyal to her family and friends. She developed many skills and had several hobbies throughout her life. She loved canning vegetables from their garden, took pride in growing beautiful irises, roses and azaleas, and of course made the most gorgeous quilts. She also loved to golf at the Randel-Hinkle Municipal Golf Course in Mtn. Grove, but nothing compared to her love for playing cards; Hand and Foot was her game of choice. Jim’s favorite past-time was fishing with his buddies and did so every chance he could get. He also grew huge vegetable gardens, worked in his workshop making fishing lures and doing other workshop tasks to enhance their home. He golfed with Arlene and friends, and would lend her a hand in any capacity even if that meant sitting all day at the kitchen table and playing cards with whomever would agree to play. Suffice it to say, they were a great team.

Jim and Arlene were members of the First Christian Church of Mountain Grove where they were active participants in the church’s events, activities, and projects. They were delighted to see the congregation grow and cherished the evolution of the church’s youth coming up in the congregation, knowing they would someday be its leaders and represent the church’s work both locally and its missions abroad.

The grandchildren were their pride and joy. Two children were born to James and his wife Lee Ann: Alexandra Lee and Christopher James. Gary and Suzy also had two children: Jonathan Shane and Ross Wayne. These four kids became quite a team. Living just one block away from each other and across the street from Jim and Arlene, they were able to play every day and they managed to get into their fair share of mischief along the way. On one occasion the three boys were misbehaving a little more than Alex was willing to tolerate, so she told the boys that she’d had it and was going home to call the police. Of course, the boys believed her and became frantic of the idea that they would all go to jail. Alex bolted into the house announcing that she needed to call 9-1-1, but before she was able to make that call, Aunt Suzy was knocking at the door. The two parents, Lee Ann and Suzy, were able to calm the kids down, reach a peace agreement, and send them off with popsicles to play at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Another time, Grandpa Jim was watching the kids at their house while Grandma Arlene was at a friend’s playing cards. The grandkids wanted to play with the water hose and, since it was a warm day, Grandpa decided it would be a good idea. So he hooked up the hose in the back yard and turned on the water. When Grandma got home, the four kids were soaking wet and muddy from head to toe and the ground next to one of her flower beds was a squishy mess of mud and water. Needless to say, the children were having the time of their lives, but Grandpa was in a whole lot of trouble.

James Elmer Roark and Arlene Mae Willey Roark lived a long and happy life together. They loved each other deeply and always had time for their family. We rejoice in our faith that Jim and Arlene are together again in the Home of Our Heavenly Father
Our family extends our sincere gratitude to Country Living Assisted Living, Autumn Oaks Nursing Home, Doctor David Barbe, and Three Rivers Hospice for their generous support and care they provided to the family and, most importantly, to Jim and Arlene.

Arlene was born January 29, 1933, in Orleans, Nebraska, and passed away September 14, 2019, at Autumn Oaks Caring Center in Mountain Grove, Missouri. She was preceded in death by her father and her mother, Vera Willey, and is survived by her siblings, Wilma Duey, Doris Popejoy, Donald Willey, and Dorma Immekus and their beloved families.

Jim was born April 5, 1927, in Iberia, Missouri, and passed away September 12, 2019, at Autumn Oaks Caring Center in Mountain Grove, Missouri. He was preceded in death by his parents, Rosco and Etta (Bailey) Roark, his siblings, Mae Wall, Anna Maude Smith, Gracie Flaughear, Finnis Roark, Archie Roark, and Bobby Roark.

Jim and Arlene are survived by their sons and families, James and Lee Ann Roark of Springfield, Missouri, Gary and Suzy Roark of Mountain Grove Grove, Missouri, Alex Roark and Bryan Manning of Los Angeles, California, Shane and Shai Roark of Vanzant, Missouri, Christopher and Kathleen Roark of Springfield, Missouri, Ross Roark of Rogersville, Missouri, and great-grandchildren, Elsie, Gentry, and Coen Roark of Vanzant, Missouri.

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Service Schedule

Past Services


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

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Funeral Service

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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