Special to the Tribune
From the red dirt of Alabama and Georgia to the halls of justice in Doniphan County, Kansas, the road taken by Roy Roper has been long.
Roy was born in Clanton, Alabama, to Jack and Jo Roper, the first of four children. When Roy was 14, his family moved to Thomasville, Georgia.
Roy was an avid hunter and fisherman who excelled in high school baseball and football. While he received a football scholarship to play for Florida State University, he did not think he would be able to attend with the Vietnam War looming. Since he did not take an entrance exam for FSU, he was sent to Coffeyville Community College, as Coffeyville was a farm school for FSU. He was to play football for two years for Coffeyville, then move on to FSU.
Never forgetting his Alabama roots, he really wanted to play for the University of Alabama and the Crimson Tide. Scouts from Alabama planned to go to Coffeyville to watch him, but that didn’t happen because of the weather.
Unfortunately, Roy sustained a knee injury that would take away his dream of playing football at the next level.
While in Coffeyville, Roy specialized in cheerleading, too – well, one cheerleader at least. He met the cutest girl on the sidelines named Linda, and she has been his cheerleader ever since. After they married, Uncle Sam called Roy into duty. That duty was serving his country in the Navy. Officers from Washington, DC, went to Roy’s boot camp in Chicago, looking for recruits who would represent the Navy and the USA with pride and honor. Honor Guards were to be at least 6’2” in stature, have no criminal history or no visible tattoos, and were required to march for at least an hour. Each member was trained to stand motionless for extended periods of time, trained in areas of rifle drill manual and marching, and the daily labor of maintaining rigorous physical and uniform standards demanded of Ceremonial Guardsmen.
A life-size poster cutout of Roy was used by the Navy for advertising and recruiting. That poster was used all over the world.
During his service, Roy had the honor of laying wreaths on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The tomb exemplifies valor and honor, remembering those who died committing brave and selfless acts with no one to bear witness to them.
Roy was also instrumental in helping bury more than 2,000 Navy servicemen who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. He was part of the Honor Guard that helped place President Dwight D. Eisenhower onto the special funeral train for its journey from the nation’s capital through seven states to his hometown of Abilene.
Roy also attended the funeral of Senator Richard B. Russell in Atlanta, standing by President Nixon while Nixon placed a wreath on the casket. Roy served his country as an Honor Guard in the Navy for three years. His last year in the Navy was spent in Charleston, South Carolina, on fleet duty.
Roy and Linda returned to Coffeyville with two daughters: Kim who is an RN and lives in Girard; and Karman who is a stay-at-home mom raising her children in Maize. Roy was employed by the police force in Coffeyville for one year before he was recruited by the Kansas Highway Patrol in Osage County. He worked for the KHP there from 1973 to 1976, then went to Doniphan County, Kansas from 1977 to 1986, and to Neosho County from 1986 to 1998. After he retired from KHP, he and Linda ran their own construction company.
One day, he received a call from the sheriff of Doniphan County asking him to run for Magistrate Judge in the town of Troy. He was elected, running against a hometown boy. For 18 years and three months, God kept him on the bench, running unopposed in four elections. Roy saw a need for the community to get acquainted with area law enforcement, so from 1990 to 1997 Roy and his wife started Bass-N-Badges where community and law enforcement got together for fishing tournaments. It was so successful it became one of the largest fishing tournaments in the Midwest. Roy’s mother, Jo, enjoyed helping with the event and became affectionately known as Mama Jo to all participants. Lil Keepers was another fishing tournament where children fished with law enforcement, fire fighters and EMTs.
Accepting Christ as a young teen, Roy has seen Christ’s hand in all his life. He is now retired from his judgeship and has once again made Chanute his home. Roy is a member of First Baptist Church where you can find him helping in all capacities. He can also be found at the hospital and in nursing homes, visiting people while sharing the love and grace of Christ. Roy and Linda also started a Facebook page called Southern View Ministries where Roy said people can enjoy the meanderings of an ole’ southern boy who loves the Lord and wants to share his experiences and observations.