400 gather to remember County Councilman Roop

`Too brief a time' as legislator, Owens says at funeral service

January 09, 2000|By Laura Sullivan | Laura Sullivan,SUN STAFF

More than 400 people -- Anne Arundel County residents, County Council members and family -- gathered at a white church in Severna Park yesterday to honor and remember Councilman Cliff Roop.

Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church, flanked by a color guard from the county's police and fire departments, was full as County Executive Janet S. Owens and Mr. Roop's 15-year-old daughter, Amy, shared their memories, bringing the audience to tears.

Mr. Roop, 44, died Monday night after collapsing from a heart attack in his council office, where he had gone to take a break during a meeting. Before the council convened, Mr. Roop told colleagues he had taken cold medicine and was waiting for it to take effect.

An hour into the meeting, he paused slightly while speaking in support of a zoning amendment, took a sip of water and said he wasn't feeling well.

In his office, Mr. Roop's aide helped him lie on the floor next to a fan. After a short while, he told the aide, Pamela Scarbro, he was feeling better, but then collapsed. Ms. Scarbro and several paramedics who had been attending the council meeting attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but neither they nor doctors at Anne Arundel Medical Center could revive him.

Mr. Roop was remembered at the funeral service as the father of two girls, and a small-business man and politician who made a name for himself during his single year in office -- fighting for improvements on the B&A hiker-biker trail, the completion of East-West Boulevard, and support of small businesses and the school system.

`Plans and dreams'

"For the district and the county, it was too brief a time," Ms. Owens said at the funeral. "He loved life. He loved his church. He had plans and dreams, but they have been taken away."

A year ago, his supporters -- known as the "Roop Troop" -- crammed into the council chambers for the swearing-in ceremony, yelling, "Roop, Roop, Roop," when he spoke. It sounded like dogs barking, he said later.

At his funeral, friends recalled his sense of humor and his habit of giving people he knew a friendly punch on the arm.

"We were so proud of him and of being able to help our friend obtain the one thing he wanted all his life, which was to be elected," said Ted Janssen, campaign manager for Mr. Roop -- one of two Republicans on the seven-member council. "For him, it was public service. When he won, we were ecstatic. He was so happy. We just had a ball."

Mr. Roop, who owned Colony 7 Shell gas station on Route 32 in Odenton, spoke often about his daughters. The girls -- Amy and 10-year-old Jamie -- moved in May to live in Pennsylvania with their mother, Lynnell D. Leighty-Roop, Mr. Roop's former wife.

Unrealized vision

Mr. Roop made his way through much of his platform over the past year, hoping to improve county schools and see the completion of East-West Boulevard, a long-planned link between Ritchie and Veterans highways. But he died before he was able to see much of his vision for Severna Park fulfilled.

The Rev. Donald D. Lincoln, pastor of Mr. Roop's church, Christ Our Anchor Presbyterian in Severna Park, conducted the service at Woods Memorial because it could accommodate more people.

"We struggle today with what he didn't finish in his life," Mr. Lincoln told the mourners. "But the question is, who ever gets to finish?"

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