James Dennis Roenigk, 72, of Sarver, passed away Saturday, April 25 at home from a heart attack. The fourth of L.B. and Freda Roenigk’s six children, he was proud to have been his mother’s favorite. But then again, she says that about all of her kids.
Jim graduated from Freeport High School in 1966 and attended Slippery Rock University, which lasted for all of a semester. After becoming eligible for the draft, he enlisted in the Army. His brother Lee warned him not to enlist for three years, so Jim signed up for four. Go figure. He was recruited into the Army Security Agency and while stationed in Turkey, conducted electronic surveillance against the Soviet Union during the Vietnam War. We’re fairly certain that’s where he left his social filter.
Jim Roenigk loved being a mechanic so much that he forgot to retire. For over 50 years, he worked for W.L. Roenigk and Don Martin. He had to do every job correctly, and in great painstaking detail would explain what he was doing, even if you didn’t ask.
There is no question Jim left an impression on anyone that he met with his sharp wit. Not everyone (and we’re fairly certain that number is relatively high) appreciated his sense of humor, but as Jim would say, "I can get along with anybody, I’m just not sure how they feel."
Even though Jim was not an emotional man, it was clear what he cared about. He was proud of his time in the service, that his son was a Marine, and that he was a new grandfather. He loved reading books about history and telling stories (He swore he never made up a story that wasn’t true.) He loved the entire Roenigk clan, and his siblings, nieces, nephews, and all of his cousins loved Uncle Jim back. He was proud to work with his hands and live honestly, and with integrity.
He couldn’t pass up a handful of jelly beans or anything on the History channel, and actually enjoyed eating those cheap, salty gas station ‘punkin’ seeds in the red bag. His fondness for white house cherry ice cream was only surpassed by his love of Ritz crackers with Colby cheese, crunchy JIF peanut butter, and a Manzanilla olive. He was the first person you’d call in a pinch, to make you laugh, or if you needed a really good Santa Claus come December. He was always the first to offer help, and the last to criticize.
His death was very unexpected, as it was believed by many that it was impossible to kill a Roenigk. Both his former and current wife can confirm this. His family would like to extend their heartfelt thanks to the members of Buffalo Township Volunteer Fire Company, Sarver Volunteer Fire Company, and Saxonburg Ambulance who gave their valiant effort in attempting to save his life.
He is survived by his very patient and tolerant wife, Karen Roenigk; son, Don (Ashley) Roenigk, and stepsons Christopher Breck and Matthew (Crystal) Breck; grandsons Sam Roenigk and Hunter and Sawyer Breck; mother Freda; siblings Carol , Albert "Ouch" (and companion Carol Gamble), Lee (Joanne), Fred (Joy), and Chuck (Belinda). He is preceded in death by his father, L.B. Roenigk.
He will be sorely missed by his family and the Snap-On Tools sales guy. If you are so inclined, his family would be honored to have donations be made in his name to the Buffalo Township Volunteer Fire Company, Sarver Volunteer Fire Company, or Saxonburg Ambulance.
In lieu of a traditional funeral service, his family will be hosting a celebration of Jim’s life at a future date. Make sure to brush up on your Jim stories.
If you’re fortunate enough to still have your father, give him a hug and tell him you love him. Go out of your way to help your neighbor and make sure they’re doing alright. And learn how to properly use a ratchet strap. It’s what Jim would have wanted. And that’s a true story.
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