‘Voice of Troy’ passes away

Published 3:00 am Thursday, August 25, 2016

Troy has lost its favorite voice.

The death of WTBF radio personality and community friend Jim Roling on Wednesday has stunned and saddened the extended Troy and Pike County communities.

Roling, WTBF station manager and co-owner, has been a familiar voice in Troy and Pike County almost continuously since he and his family returned home in 1980.

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“We are going to have to get used to not hearing Jim’s voice and that’s not going to be easy,” said Jimmy Lunsford, a longtime friend and high school classmate. “I’m so used to listening to Jim’s voice on the radio, it will never be the same.

Troy boys Lunsford and Roling graduated high school together in 1961. Lunsford appreciated Roling’s talent as a radio announcer but appreciated his friendship even more.

“Jim was a good friend to me and a good friend to the community,” Lunsford said. “He was a strong supporter of many organizations and events. He made a difference is so many lives. His death is a tremendous loss. The community has lost a best friend.”

Earl Ellis and Roling have been friends since they attended “Miss Eagan’s” kindergarten.

Ellis said his friend’s death has left a void in his life that cannot be filled.

“Jim and I shared a close friendship over the years,” Ellis said. “Our mothers were teachers and our dads were carpenters so we had a lot in common. Jim and I worked after school together at Henderson Black and Green. I remember one day we were so hot and tired and Jim said he was going to go get a job at the radio station.”

Ellis said Roling was a natural for the radio station.

“Jim had a gift for talking and adlibbing and leading groups in public meetings,” he said. “He was easy to talk with because he was so interesting. He moved to South Carolina for a while but, when he came back to Troy, we picked right back up with our friendship.”

Ellis said Roling loved his family and he loved the outdoors.

“He and Angie loved to travel and he had so many stories about the places they went and the people they met. They have a farm in Bullock County near High Ridge. He loved going there. He liked to bush hog and work the garden. He had so many interests. He was quite an interesting guy.”

Ralph Black, WTBF’s Morning Show host, and Roling worked together for 20-plus years.

“Jim had a big heart and he had a big heart for Troy,” Black said. “He wanted to keep the radio station local. He would do anything in any shape, form or fashion to promote Troy. He was big fan of Troy University. He loved everything about Troy.”

On a personal note, Black said Roling was a friend to him during a time of need and he will always remember what that meant to him.

“Jim and I worked the Independence Day Parade in Brundidge this year,” Black said. “We had a great time. He was a lot of fun. I will miss him. We all will miss Jim.”

Tammy Powell said Roling’s death was a devastating loss for all Pike County.

“Jim’s death is a loss that will be felt for a long time,” she said. “His shoes cannot be filled. Devastating is the only word I can think of.”

Powell, retired Pike County Extension coordinator, said Roling’s daughter, Caylor, was a member of 4-H and she got to know Roling through the program.

“Jim was a wonderful supporter of the 4-H program but, then, Jim was a wonderful supporter of so many good things in Pike County. He was supporter of our Extension program. Once when there was widespread loss of electricity and people were in worried about their freezers, he invited us to go on the air and tell people how to take care of their frozen food so it would not be lost.”

Powell said Roling was a community minded person who cannot be replaced.

“You never think that the last time you saw someone was the last time you will see them,” she said.

“I often told Jim how much I appreciated him and Angie and the radio station and what they did for the community. I just wish I had one more time to tell him how the community appreciates and loves him. Jim had a heart for the community and the community had a heart for him.”

David “Doc” Kirby, WTBF host, said losing Roling was like a death in the family.

“Jennifer (Smith) said she devastated by the Jim’s death,” Kirby said. “She said it was like losing a dad, which is the attitude of all our younger employees. Jim was like a big brother to me.”

Kirby had Roling had been friends since Roling returned from South Carolina in 1979.

“Jim always referred to all of us at WTBF as family,” Kirby said.

“Today, our family is missing one of its own.”

Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later date by Green Hills Funeral Home.