Louise Bell Roach an unforgettable lady
by Marguerite Cline
Columnist
March 22, 2013 12:00 AM | 2546 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Canton’s Linda Satterfield described her neighbor well when she said that Louise Bell Roach never lets her handicap be a handicap.

A native of Buffington community, Louise lived with her family near what was Coker’s Dairy. She attended Buffington Elementary before entering Canton High School and graduating in 1943. She thinks the only other members of her class still living are Wyolene Lawson Hunt and John Lummus.

A beautiful blue-eyed young lady, Louise was working at Sears when she became critically ill. Diagnosed with spinal meningitis, she was in a coma for several weeks.

During that time she had totally lost her hearing. Doctors said it could not be restored.

Naturally, she cried a lot. At first she did not want to be around other people. Louise thinks that is why Juniata Garrett asked her to come to work in her beauty shop in the Galt Building in downtown Canton earning $10 per week. Working there put her back in contact with others.

At first she communicated with others by their writing on a tablet. Gradually, she learned to read lips.

When she and her future husband, Charles Roach, were dating, they had special ways of communicating with one another.

They had met at the downtown Canton Theatre. When they would go there on a date, she would be facing the screen reading the actors’ lips. When Charles tugged three times on her sleeve, it was his way of saying, “I love you.”

When he would take her home, she would blink the porch lights three times and he would blink his car lights three times before he drove away. They were telling one another, “I love you.”

Charles laughingly tells about when he and Louise went to a doctor in Florida to see if he might be able to restore Louise’s hearing. He could not. But he did tell Charles it was important for Louise to keep talking so she would not forget how. Charles says he assured the doctor that would not be a problem since Louise talked all the time.

The couple had three successful sons — Med, Mike and Jeff. Med became a pastor. Mike, now deceased, was a lawyer and a respected Cherokee County judge. Jeff went into banking.

According to Charles, Mike kept him out of trouble, Jeff keeps him out of debt and Med works to see that he goes to Heaven. Charles said Med has a hardest job.

By the time they were 3 years old, each of the boys had learned to get their mother’s attention by tugging on her clothes. Then she would read their lips.

The arrival of the computer age opened a new world for Louise. At first Charles bought a closed-caption device for their television. It cost $29.99. At the time, that was a lot of money. Louise protested, but once it was hooked up, she loved it.

It was Jeff’s idea that she learn to use a computer. She credits him, plus her neighbors Linda Satterfield and Elizabeth Browning, for teaching her how to use it.

At the time, she was more than 80 years old.

Soon she was sending and receiving e-mails. On Facebook, she sends messages back and forth with her family and friends.

Now she has a very smart phone. While she cannot hear it ringing, she does feel it vibrating. She, her family and friends send text messages back and forth.

Her computer skills now enable her to play online games. Donna Threewitt Stanley or Linda Voyles are often her opponents when she is playing Ruzzle.

Louise not only has an amazing attitude, she has a wonderful sense of humor.

After dinner one Christmas, Louise led the grandchildren outside the house to knock on the front door and then sing Christmas Carols for the rest of the family.

Teenagers, the grandchildren saw an opportunity to pull a prank on their fun-loving grandmother. They decided they would not sing but just move their lips. Unbeknownst to Louise, she sang “Jingle Bells” all by herself. Describing the event, Med wrote, “It was one of those memorable family moments that brought us to tears laughing so hard.” According to Med, her solo was, “…badly out of key.”

There are now six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Loving to crochet, she has made each of them an afghan.

For years, a popular feature in “Reader’s Digest,” was “The Most Unforgettable Character I Ever Met.” Louise Roach is definitely one of the most unforgettable people I ever met.

Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.
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