A hand-written, two-sided, seven-page letter dated January 23, 1963 from an Army Spec 4 in Frankfurt, Germany, was in response to a letter from Margaret J. Lanham, a senior, unknown to him, from Washington High School in Massillon, OH. She had written to him, a lonely soldier, at the suggestion of her aunt. Those letters resulted in an 18-month written friendship that turned into a four-year courtship, leading to a marriage on August 14, 1968. It lasted 52 years minus two days due to his passing. Incidentally, the bride’s parents Glenn and Opal Lanham, were also married on that date in 1918, resulting in a double celebration.
Roger W. Riffle was born on June 1, 1942 in French Creek, WV to parents, Robert I. and Jessie M. (Lang) Riffle.
He slipped away peacefully at home in North Canton on August 12, 2020 after a final defeat by Alzheimer's disease. Family and beloved felines Bailea and Baxter were at his side.
Raised on a farm, Roger developed solid values and strong beliefs. God was his center in life. He grew up second oldest in a family resembling the Walton's. He is survived by siblings James Robert (Helga), Martha Ann Ours (David), Gerald Arthur (Judy), Helen Jane Simons (William), Ralph Junior (Roxanne), Thomas Edward (Barbara) all of Buckhannon, WV, Sharon Lee Riffle (Don) of Dallas, TX and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by an infant brother Kenneth Edward.
Roger graduated from Buckhannon-Upshur High School in 1961, immediately joining the United States Army. Receiving an honorable discharge, former Sgt. Riffle enjoyed a family celebration in West Virginia before heading to Massillon, where he met his “pen pal” Margaret. Since that meeting, he resided in Ohio for the past 56 years.
He graduated from Malone University in 1970, eventually going to work as an R&D Chemist. He worked in coatings and abrasives at Armak/Sancap/SIA in Alliance, OH before moving to Goodyear Chemicals/Eliokem/OMNOVA in Akron, OH.
His passion was nature and flowers, especially Trilliums. He traveled the country locating, photographing and documenting different such species, as well as other wildflowers. He treasured the beauty in nature and found it incredibly soul touching. Hiking trails in the Smokies were his “Heaven on Earth.”
Roger was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church, Massillon American Legion Post #221, The Wilderness Center, Friends of Stark Parks, Friends of the Smokies and The Massillon Heritage Foundation.
He loved to meet people and make them smile. His motto was “Make the most of life everywhere and in every situation.”
Special thanks to friends and family who have been ultra supportive through these challenging years. The family also thanks the Alzheimer's Association of NE Ohio, Suzi Thomas, facilitator of the North Canton Alzheimer's Support Group and the many caregivers at Crossroad's Hospice, especially RN Michelle and personal aide Heather. “Angels Among Us” by Alabama exemplifies the many angels who came into our lives on this long journey. We are so blessed.
Arrangements are being handled by the Reed Funeral Home North Canton Chapel. Final resting place will be at The Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, OH. Please visit www.reedfuneralhome.com to send condolences.