A Life Lived: Roman McKinney made living an adventure

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Roman McKinney

Roman McKinney

Roman McKinney, who died in late January, made life an adventure. McKinney’s funeral service was held last week. He was 87 years old.
During those 87 years, Roman had worked at several jobs to earn a paycheck and raise his family. Raised in the Roan Mountain community, his first job was logging, which led him to Virginia, where he met his first wife, the mother of his children, Barbara. “Her mother filled in one day for the lady who usually prepared lunch for the logging crew, and Barbara accompanied her. That’s where she met my daddy. After their marriage they moved back to Tennessee,” shared his daughter, Rose Davis.
Later, he worked on the Watauga Dam when it was built in the 1940s. His last and longest job was as a truck driver for Paty Lumber Co. “He worked almost 30 years for Paty’s and met a lot of people. He delivered lumber and building materials,” Rose said.
Not only was he a hard worker, but Roman knew how to have fun, too. He never tired of fishing and hunting and NASCAR races were also a favorite pastime. “He went to all the races at Bristol, not only the NASCAR races, but stockcar racing and dirt races. He also watched car racing on television. The racing channel was his favorite,” Rose said, who also noted that Richard Petty was Roman’s favorite race car driver.
When he wasn’t working and watching car races, Roman enjoyed doing a little fishing and hunting. “He hunted rabbits, squirrels, coons, ’possums, you name it,” said Rose. His favorite hunting buddy was Claude Strickler.
Roman was raised at Roan Mountain, where the Carter County Work Camp is now located. “That property was previously owned by my dad’s grandparents. He knew that area well and often fished in the Doe River, located near the family homeplace. However, Watauga Lake was his favorite ‘fishing hole,’” Rose said.
Aside from his work and play, Roman was a church-going man and a person of faith. He was a member of Hampton Free Will Baptist Church, but also attended other churches. For a number of years he was a Sunday School teacher at College Park Free Will Baptist Church and more recently had attended services at God’s House Full Gospel Church in Elizabethton, where his son-in-law, Jerry Davis, is pastor.
“My dad never met a stranger. He could start a conversation with anyone. He enjoyed being around people, and was very friendly. What I remember most about him was his smile. It was a very friendly and inviting smile,” said Rose.
“He met a lot of people through his work and attending the car races. Once he met you, you became his friend for life,” his daughter shared.
Rose was one of seven children. Following Barbara’s death, Roman re-married. His second wife, Diane, also preceded him in death. “He had step-children, but he never referred to them as step-children. They were his children,” Rose said.
“He enjoyed hunting with my brothers and spending time with them,” Rose further shared. Roman was also a “doter,” especially when it came to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, of which he had bunches.
Roman had been sick only two weeks before he died, having come down with pneumonia. Up until then he had lived alone in the Milligan community. “He was very independent, and had been on his own since the age of 14. He got around very well and could do for himself. We (children) helped him as much as he would let us, but for the most part he took care of himself,” Rose shared.
Apparently, there were few dull minutes in Roman McKinney’s life. Work or play, he made life an adventure.

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