Colleagues laud Roop's devotion

Councilman, 45, died after heart attack during meeting

Elected in 1998

He tried to make people's lives better, friends, colleagues say

January 05, 2000|By Amy Oakes | Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

County Councilman Cliff R. Roop was remembered yesterday for caring about people.

From constituents in the 5th District to his two daughters, Roop devoted his life to making theirs better, friends and colleagues said.

The 45-year-old Severna Park Republican collapsed from a severe heart attack during a council meeting Monday night and was pronounced dead at Anne Arundel Medical Center.

"Cliff was an individual who put people first," said Cathleen M. Vitale, chairman of the county's Republican Central Committee. "He knew how to treat people. He knew how to respect people."

Roop was beginning the second year of his first term on the council. He defeated Vitale in the primary in 1998 and defeated Democrat Mary P. Marsh to win the seat vacated by Diane R. Evans.

Council Chairman Daniel E. Klosterman Jr. said Roop's nameplate will remain at the next council meeting Jan. 18 and that the council plans to drape a black cloth over his chair. County officials have established a scholarship fund for Roop's daughters, Amy, 15, and Jamie Leigh, 10.

The council has 30 days to appoint a successor to complete the last three years of Roop's term. Applicants must be residents of the 5th District, which includes the Broadneck Peninsula, and must have been affiliated with the Republican Party for more than one year. They also must participate in a public interview before the council votes.

"We're getting phone calls already," said Klosterman, a Glen Burnie Democrat. "But we're still dealing with the loss."

Judy Holmes, the County Council's administrative officer, said the mood in the office yesterday was subdued. County workers went about their business as television cameras and reporters crowded the Arundel Center.

"We're all kind of numb," Holmes said.

Roop collapsed while the council was discussing amendments to a commercial and industrial zoning bill. Klosterman said he noticed Roop, who sits next to him, stop to take a drink of water and said he mentioned having a cold.

After discussion of an amendment on produce storage in a general commercial district, Roop walked out of the council chamber. Several more amendments had been discussed when a council aide asked Klosterman to ask whether a doctor was present. Roop had collapsed in a council office.

Pam Scarbro, Roop's aide, administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation until medical personnel arrived.

County officials, including County Executive Janet S. Owens, who had been watching the session on television -- the council's debut on cable TV -- rushed to the lobby. She was among several county officials who followed the ambulance taking Roop to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 9: 06 p.m.

At midnight, Owens ordered flags on county buildings to be flown at half-staff. Roop is the second council member to die in office. Wallace Childs died in 1984.

Owens said yesterday that Roop had the qualities of an effective leader in local politics. He was honest and interested in what was best for the county without partisan interest, she said.

"I truly thought Cliff would become a real statesman," Owens said. "He saw the larger picture."

Owens said she'll always remember Roop's sense of humor. She recalled a civic association meeting about two months ago after which she and Roop took a ride in his cherished Chrysler convertible.

With the top down and music blaring, Owens said, Roop told her jokingly, "We're going to start a rumor about the Republican from the 5th District and the Democratic county executive."

"He didn't take himself too seriously," Owens said.

Roop used his level-headed approach to work for change, colleagues said.

A native of Alexandria, Va., Roop earned a bachelor's degree in economics and business in 1976 from Emory and Henry College. He worked for Shell Oil Co. for nine years, then became owner of the Colony 7 Shell Service Station at Annapolis Junction.

He had held offices in the Anne Arundel and Maryland Young Republicans and was a member of the county Republican Central Committee from 1991 to 1994.

He had been president of the Manhattan Woods Homeowners Association and the Manhattan Beach Civic Association. He coached the Mayo Vista baseball and basketball teams and the Severna Park Green Hornets baseball team.

He was a member of Christ Our Anchor Presbyterian Church in Cape St. Claire, the Severna Park Chamber of Commerce and the Elephant Club.

Steve Carr, chairman of the Broadneck Small Area Planning Committee, said that when Roop was on the council, he showed up at many community meetings on the peninsula. "He recognized he had a lot to learn," Carr said.

Once, Carr said, Roop called him inquiring about a Ferry Farms Community Association meeting. He said he was surprised that the councilman even knew about it because the association meets twice a year and rarely discusses hot issues.

"There wasn't a meeting too small for Cliff," he said.

For all his work and activities, colleagues said, family came first.

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