A legend leaves us with a legacy of change

Inez Graybeal Roop (’35) and her husband Ralph loved two schools — James Madison University and Virginia Tech, their respective alma maters. They loved them for a lifetime, but their dedication was not limited to cheering at sporting events (although they did so enthusiastically) or supporting bricks and mortar.  Their primary

Inez Graybeal Roop

commitment was to the education that these schools deliver, to the process of learning and growing that they knew — unequivocally — would change the world. In an earlier interview for Montpelier (now Madison magazine), Mrs. Roop said, “Our parents felt it was a No. 1 priority for us to earn our education and to be generous.  They put us through school during the Depression and they would be pleased if they knew that we have benefited so much from our education. They would also be pleased that we are giving back so that others might have the opportunity to study for a college education.”

Give back, they did indeed.

The Roops turned their belief in education into change that has impacted — and will continue to impact — thousands of students. Thousands.  Through their financial support, through scholarships and through countless hours of service, Mrs. Roop supported her university, Madison. For eight years, she was a member of the Board of Visitors. In that capacity, she was the voice that made the formal motion to change the name from Madison College to James Madison University, adding her unique stamp to Madison’s history. In 1977 she received the Distinguished Alumni Service Award. The award was later renamed “The James Madison University Inez Graybeal Roop Distinguished Service Award,” appropriately honoring one who so exemplified its sentiment. She was also active in alumni functions. Last spring, with her characteristic enthusiasm and spunk, Mrs. Roop attended her 75th reunion on campus.

Last week, Mrs. Roop died at age 97. (Mr. Roop died in 2006.) During her lifetime, it’s safe to say she saw more change at Madison that almost all of us. She lived it, but most importantly, she enabled it. Her long life of service and generosity exemplified positive change and energized her lifetime belief that education is a fundamental element in moving us all toward a better future. Neither Inez nor Ralph Roop will ever be forgotten. In perpetuity, students will open up scholarship letters and read the names of Inez and Ralph Roop, and those students will continue to promote the positive change that the Roops lived. Their legacy, and especially that of Mrs. Roop, is the growth and the progress that education fuels. The Roop’s legacy will continue to change the world.

Read more about Inez Graybeal Roop on the Be the Change website http://www.jmu.edu/bethechange/people/roop.shtml

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This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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