Terry Roth, veterans advocate, former Marine, dies in Port Angeles at 72

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — One of Terry Roth's last actions before his death Sunday morning was to stand for fallen veterans.

Roth, 72, attended last Friday's bell-ringing ceremony in Veterans Park next to the Clallam County Courthouse just as he had every month for decades to honor servicemen and -women who had died.

And even though he used a wheelchair to get there and an oxygen tank to help him breathe, Roth stood when he was supposed to.

“For him to stand at that bell-ringing last Friday, I just couldn't believe him,” Terry's widow, Maggie Roth, said in a phone interview Tuesday.

“He was not going to sit down until it was the appropriate time.”

Two days later, her husband died at Olympic Medical Center, Maggie Roth said, most likely of a heart attack.

A memorial service open to the public is planned for 1 p.m. Friday, March 14, at the Clallam County Veterans Center, 261 S. Francis St., she said.

Her husband's hospitalization followed about six months of seriously failing health for the former Marine and a battle with lung cancer that started in 2004, she said.

Through several heart attacks, heart surgeries and other health issues in his later life, she said, her husband kept community service and helping others, especially veterans, at the forefront.

“He was always there willing to lend a hand,” Maggie Roth said.

“The hardest thing for him to do was for him to accept the fact that he couldn't do something.

“He was probably the strongest man I've ever known in my life.”

Clallam County Commissioner Jim McEntire, a retired Coast Guard captain, said Terry Roth could be seen in every local veterans event and parade and at the annual veterans stand down events at the county fairgrounds.

Heart with veterans

“His heart was in the community; his heart was particularly with veterans,” McEntire said.

“He was a presence in town. Everybody knew Terry.”

Roth also made sure the county's veterans relief fund was spent in the most effective way possible, county board Chairman Mike Chapman said.

“It seemed like he was always working very hard to make sure that [veterans] had a chance, if they were [having a] hard time, to make sure they got back on their feet,” Chapman said.

Roth ran unsuccessfully against Chapman for his county commissioner seat, a campaign Chapman remembers as positive.

“He was a perfect gentleman,” Chapman said. “We had a nice, respectful campaign.”

Roth was instrumental in seeing that the federal building, 138 W. First St., was named for Richard B. Anderson, a Sequim High School graduate who died saving others on the Pacific island of Roi-Namur in World War II, Chapman said.

Anderson was the recipient of the Medal of Honor.

Born in Seattle, Roth moved to California with his family when he was 7 and would eventually graduate from Van Nuys High School, his widow said.

Roth went on to earn degrees in geology and criminal justice and, after serving two years in the Marines, worked as a deputy for the Ventura County Sheriff's Office until he, his then-wife and son moved to Port Angeles in 1973.

Roth retired as a sergeant with the Clallam County Sheriff's Office in 1980 and did private detective work before opening the Northwest Duty Free Store in The Landing mall in about 1996, closing it in 2008.

Roth was also past president of the Clallam County Veterans Association and Port Angeles Downtown Association, and a founding member of the Mount Olympus Marine Corps League Detachment 897, in addition to numerous other community group memberships.

“He was always there for veterans,” said Mark Schildknecht, past commandant of Detachment 897, which hosts the monthly bell-ringing ceremonies near the courthouse.

Roth leaves behind his widow, two grown children, two grown stepchildren, eight grandchildren, a sister in Bothell and several nieces and nephews.

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: March 05. 2014 1:34AM
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