She was 59.
A Johnson City native, Pam Roe graduated from Science Hill High School in 1974 before becoming a licensed practical nurse. In 1978, she began working in obstetrics and gynecology at Johnson City Medical Center, where she remained until 1996. She was a member of Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, and also served with the Washington County Republican Women and the Humane Society of Washington County. Additionally, she was described as a lover of the outdoors, specifically the mountains of East Tennessee, and loved hiking, camping, swimming and jogging.
News of her death was revealed in a press release issued from Tiffany McGuffee Haverly, Roe’s communications director. In addition to announcing Pam Roe’s death, Haverly’s release also thanked members of the community for their support during her illness.
“Pam was a devoted mother, grandmother, wife, friend and philanthropist who will be sorely missed by every person who had the distinct privilege of knowing her,” the release stated. “The family is grateful for the support, thoughts and prayers of so many and asks for privacy during this extremely difficult time.”
On Feb. 3, Rep. Roe announced he would spend time away from his office in Washington, D.C., after an immediate family member had been diagnosed with what was described as a “very serious illness.” Though Roe did not specify as to which family member at the time, according to his son and Pamela Roe’s stepson, Dave Roe, her cancer was diagnosed at around that same time. Upon that diagnosis, he said, the family learned her cancer was already in its late stages.
“By the time she was diagnosed, the cancer was very advanced,” Dave Roe said. “What we were trying to do was get her past her surgery and strong enough to do rehab. It looked like she was going to be able to do that, then she took a really sharp downturn, really fast.”
Pam Roe died 37 days after that diagnosis, he said. Upon news of her death, several offices and individuals released statements expressing their condolences. Gov. Bill Haslam’s office issued a statement on behalf of himself and First Lady Crissy Haslam in which they mourned her loss and thanked her for her years of community service.
“Pam and Phil Roe have been great friends to Crissy and me, and we are both saddened to hear of Pam's passing,” Haslam said. “We are grateful for Pam and all the ways she served the people of Northeast Tennessee.”
Like the Haslams, Jonesborough Mayor Kelly Wolfe also pointed out her absence would be felt in the community.
“It’s a tragic early end to her life,” Wolfe said. “Her good influence on our community will be sorely missed.”
Much of her community service was spent working on the board of directors for the Humane Society of Washington County. A release issued by HSWC President Lucinda Grandy also indicated Pam Roe was instrumental in establishing some of the society’s more effective
“Today the Humane Society of Washington County mourns the loss of a longtime and dedicated board member,” Grandy wrote. “Pamela Roe supported the mission of the Humane Society to raise funds and awareness to save, protect and advance the lives of the animals of Washington County. She was an avid supporter of the spay neuter program and was instrumental in helping create the new foster and adoption programs. Pamela's ultimate goal was to become a no-kill community. She will be missed not only as a board member but also as a friend.”
HSWC Vice President Jim Reel expanded on that statement, adding that Pam’s friendship may be missed more than her work with the society.
“She was just a ... dear, wonderful person,” Reel said. “She was a good friend and a good friend to the Humane Society. She’s going to be dearly missed.”
Reel and the Humane Society were not alone in thinking highly of Pam. Area businessman Guy Wilson, a longtime friend of Phil Roe, described Pam Roe as a “wonderful” woman who was adored by all.
“She was a fine, wonderful lady,” Wilson said. “Everyone loved her and cared for her. I never heard a bad word about her.”
Though he said he had more interaction with her husband, state Sen. Rusty Crowe — who represents Washington, Unicoi and Carter counties in Nashville — added he always thought highly of Pam and her work in the community.
“I always felt she was a beautiful and vibrant lady,” Crowe said. “I really hate it for Congressman Roe. I know he’ll miss her and we’ll miss her as well.”
Joining Crowe in his support of Roe was the East Tennessee State University Alumni Association. In a statement made on its Facebook page, the association wrote, “We offer our heartfelt condolences to our friend, physician and U.S. Congressman Phil Roe and family for the loss of his wife Pamela. With our thoughts of comfort and peace, we stand with you all.”
Though many were affected by Pam’s death, many, in turn, were affected by her in life, as well. When asked about his stepmother, Dave Roe, who knew Pam longer than the 19 years she was married to his father, recited a list of all the things she loved.
”She loved animals; they always had dogs,” Dave Roe said. “She was really close with Whitney (Larkin), her daughter. She was great with my kids. They loved Nana.
”She was a great lady, I’ll tell you that.“
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Reported at 2:56 p.m.:
Pamela Roe, wife of U.S. Rep. Phil Roe of Johnson City, died Thursday, according to a press release from his office.
The release did not indicate the cause of her death and asked for privacy in the wake of it. It did, however, express gratitude on behalf of the Roe family for the support they received in the wake of her death.
Check back here later for more details as they become available.