The Lion's Roar

Remembering Roppolo

Annie Goodman, Editor-In-Chief

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After 28 years of service to the university as a physical plant worker, George Roppolo, 58, passed away after having a heart attack while on the job.

“He had the biggest heart,” shared Gianna Roppolo, his daughter. “He was very giving and very caring. He’d help any student. He didn’t care even if it wasn’t his place. He was a jack of all trades. He could do anything. He was so compassionate. He was so funny. No one has a bad story to tell about him.”

Immediately following the incident on Sunday, Oct. 14, Samuel Hickey, a sophomore computer science major, was first to arrive on the scene.

“I walked out of the Sig Tau house about 8:15,” explained Hickey. “I saw him drive by, then I heard a crash. As I came up over the hill, I saw him slumped over on his side. He had crashed into the back of a vehicle, and his foot was still on the accelerator.”

Hickey explained his course of action upon realizing something was not right.

“I walked over there and asked him if he was OK and what was wrong,” continued Hickey. “There was no response. I quickly put the vehicle in neutral, and another bystander came over and helped me get him off the cart and lay him on the ground. I quickly called 911. Thankfully, the firefighters were right there at the lab school, and they were there within minutes.”

After the incident, Hickey visited the University Police Department to follow up on George Roppolo’s condition.

“I went over and talked to the guys at the police department after,” said Hickey. “They were saying that it all pretty much happened within a time span of like 15 minutes. He was actually dead on the spot, and then they managed to revive him later. He lived until the next Sunday, then his family decided to pull him off life support. His heart was working at 30 percent, and he had sustained brain damage, which is difficult to come back from.”

Hickey explained that his father, who is a doctor, helped prepare him for these kinds of situations.

“I had seen my dad in situations similar to this growing up,” said Hickey. “It was really just a matter of keeping everybody calm, get the guy some space and water if possible.”

Gianna Roppolo shared that she also lost her mother when she was 19-years-old, but her parents taught her love and acceptance.

“I grew up in a house of love,” expressed Gianna Roppolo. “There’re no secrets. You’re upfront, and you’re honest. I knew they’re not gonna judge me for anything I said or did.”

She also mentioned some of the life lessons her father taught her and how she tries to model her life after him.

“He showed me love and how if you’re in a position to help somebody, just do it,” added Gianna Roppolo. “I feel like I have a legacy to live on to be as kind and as loving as they were. That’s all they were known for.”

Marissa Bergeron, a junior nursing major, shared some of the ways George Roppolo impacted her life.

“He was my maintenance guy on campus for two years,” noted Bergeron. “He was the most genuine person ever, always willing to go out of his way for somebody, always had a smile on his face no matter what day it was.”

Bergeron explained a time in which George Roppolo went above and beyond to help students.

“He actually taught me how to open a coconut,” commented Bergeron. “We caught him outside the apartments one day, and he was like, ‘Yeah, I know how to do it.’ He drilled it and then cracked it open and showed me how to carve it out of the shell.”

George Roppolo was considered an inspiration by Bergeron.

“I try to be like him on a daily basis now, willing to help others when they need it,” said Bergeron.

Though Bergeron did not know George Roppolo for long, she has been affected by his death.

“I’m really, really saddened by it,” said Bergeron. “It hits you at random times. He’s got a good family. He’s got good people to live on.”

Gianna Roppolo expressed how important organ donation was to her father since her mother was a double transplant patient. Any donations to the family are being directed to the National Foundation for Transplants at https://transplants.org/.

“I know he would want us to celebrate, to celebrate all the things that he’s accomplished and to celebrate him and laugh about his funny stories,” said Gianna Roppolo. “It’s OK to be sad, but definitely live out that kindness that he had.”

1 Comment

One Response to “Remembering Roppolo”

  1. mary roppolo mcclendon on October 24th, 2018 2:17 pm

    He was that AND SO MUCH MORE, I am so gonna miss him

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