BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — On February 6, 2023, a man who created the regional jail system and was able to work with both sides of the aisle in Charleston passed away.
Born in Beckley, Jack Roop began his political career as county commissioner in 1976.
In 1982, he was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates as a Democrat, serving five terms until 1992.
After retiring from the West Virginia Legislature, Roop was asked by then-Governor Gaston Caperton to help create and run the state’s regional jail system.
But, it was not just politics Roop was known for.
“He was probably the most positive,” said Gordie Roop, one of Jack’s sons. “Never talked about anybody. And it was always, it’ll be okay, it’ll get better. And never burn a bridge that you got to walk back across. He always told me that.”
“It was one of his famous sayings,” said Bill Roop, his oldest son. “And always keep on the right,” said Mary-Jacqueline Roop, Jack’s daughter.
It didn’t matter whether he was in the halls of the state capital or fixing cars, Jack could make anyone happy to spend time with him.
“I could see people come in just mad and they would walk out just happy as could be,” said Gordie.
“That was one of the things you always heard at Lewis Chevrolet,” said Bill. “He was the service manager and people would come in furious. Their car wasn’t fixed, their car wasn’t working. And by the time they left, they said he had his arm around them and they were as happy as could be. Best friends.”
His wife of 67 years, Mary Frances, said he never stopped trying to make people’s days better.
“But he could make anything turn into something good,” said Roop. “That was just his, I don’t know if it was his motto to always try to make something good out of anything, bad or whatever.”
A political leader whose happiness and love crossed both generations and party lines.