In Memorium to William Lee Roth

Jennifer Carnahan

William Lee Roth
March 18, 1928 -- April 07, 1999

William Lee Roth was my daddy. He worked many long, hard hours to give our family a good life. He had a wife and three children: me - his daughter Jennifer, his son Billy and his son Danny. His wife was Leah Rae Roth. I have many wonderful memories of my daddy. I remember him spending hours trying to get my guinea pig out from under a huge bush in our front yard for me when I was a child. I remember him building cages for my many animals. He worked in the yard, building porches, brick trails and potting plants. I remember his repairing our cars, washer and dryer. He drove me to school. He knew many times when I was "up to no good", but he didn't interfere - he let me learn most of my own lessons. My fondest, most comforting memory is my remembrance of when he read the story "Winkin, Blinkin & Nod" to me as a small child, while I sat on his lap. He would take me to work with him on some weekends. He put Christmas lights up on our house every year. He had a boat at one point and I remember how much he enjoyed it. He loved Country Music. His listening to Johnny Cash and others instilled a love of music in me. He loved Dodger baseball and took me (and our family) to games. He played baseball with my brothers and helped them paint their model airplanes just like the ones he worked on as a Marine, where he worked as an airplane mechanic at the close of WWII. I have been told that he had a wonderful childhood with two loving, caring parents (they are buried in Inglewood, California). They all lived in Chicago, Illinois. I am not sure when his family moved to California. He also had a sister, Marilyn (my aunt), and she loved him tremendously. Her heart is also broken over his passing. I think everyone loved my dad. He was a very good man. He was gentle and kind. You will never meet a man more dedicated to his wife. He worked very hard to give her a good life. He stood by her through everything. I have seen many pictures of my dad while he and my mom were in Hawaii. I think he was the happiest he had ever been while he was there. I hadn't had much contact with my dad for a few years previous to his death, but I was able to speak to him by phone a few weeks previous to his passing and was able to get a "get well" and a "birthday" card to him. I love him very much and miss him. The pain of his passing is so devastating.

My daddy had a major stroke about 15 years ago. I remember it like it was yesterday. I thought he would die at that time. He didn't. He had to relearn to walk and talk for the most part. But he was strong and made it through. My dad was a printer (pressman), like his father before him and it was very hard for him to be forced into retirement. I believe he was very defined by his hard work. He taught me a very strong work ethic, without his ever knowing it. My daddy also had heart attacks and other strokes following that first major one. He was so strong, always sticking to life! At the end of 1998, my dad fell. He then required a hip replacement so that he would be able to walk again. He was evaluated for his heart's fitness for surgery and it was decided that he could have the surgery. He pulled through with flying colors - of course! I hear he suffered much pain afterward. I understand he was in the hospital undergoing rehab (but doing well) and he again fell.

This fall caused a "spinal compression" and paralyzed my daddy. Again, he was in excruciating pain. He was flown to the VA Hospital in San Francisco and surgery was done to save his life. The odds of surviving the surgery were 50/50. Again, he made it through with flying colors. He was not expected to regain use of his arms or legs but did end up being able to move them some. Although he was suffering, there was light at the end of the tunnel and he was recuperating and doing well. On April 1, my daddy was sitting in his wheelchair to have a meal with some other vets in the nursing unit of the VA Medical Center in Reno, Nevada. I understand that he just slumped over and was then unresponsive. The tests taken revealed that he had a severe seizure. As I was making arrangements to fly across the country, I heard that he was brain dead, but in fact, his brain stem was still functioning and he could breathe on his own. His heart that everyone thought was so weak was still beating away! He did go into a coma. When I arrived on April 5, my dad was comatose and had developed pneumonia. I believe the pneumonia was a blessing, keeping him from lingering in a coma for what could be a long while. He had a living will and a DNR order. My mommy, brother Billy, Aunt Judy and I sat with my dad on the 5th and 6th. At 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 7, a nurse phoned my brother Billy to tell him that my dad's respiration was increasing. We had asked to be notified if there were any "serious changes". I was the first to arrive, then my brother within a few minutes (he had to park the car) and within ten minutes, my mommy and my aunt. We all talked to him, and hugged him. We told him how much we loved him. I told him what a "great daddy" he had always been and I heard my mom, with her heart breaking, tell him that she loved him, that they were "soul mates", what a good husband he had been and what a great life he had given her. The room was filled with our love as we said our final good-byes. We were told by the nurses and doctors that the hearing is the last to go and that he may know we were there. I choose to believe that he did. My daddy's breathing slowed. While my mom sat on the bed holding him, I sat next to his bed with my right hand on his left upper arm and my other arm around my mom. We were crying. It was just so heart breaking. My aunt rubbed his head soothingly and told him it was okay and to go to the light. My brother was standing at the foot of his bed. My daddy died after we all had said good-bye and had told him it was okay to let go. He died in my mommy's arms with me holding his arm.

Although I had said good-bye, I did go back into the room a few times following his death to look to him again and say good-bye. I didn't want to say good-bye and never see him again. He appeared so small after he died. I saw my brother salute him from the foot of his bed. Our hearts are all broken and no man will ever replace my daddy, Bill Roth.

Even though I only spent a few days with my dad at the VA Medical Center in Reno, I understand that they gave him very humane and excellent medical care. When my dad was in "2-A" and the "Nursing Home", every nurse and doctor I came into contact with explained things to me fully and in a very compassionate way. I am very impressed with them and thank them for everything they did for my daddy, Bill Roth, and his family.

I understand that there is some controversy surrounding the administration of the opiate "Morphine" to dying patients. Morphine helped to make my daddy's last few days much more bearable and I only hope I have something as successful to ease my pain in my final days.

Thank you to "Bob", a volunteer at the Reno VA Medical Center Nursing Unit for providing music, dinners and recreation to my daddy and other vets during his last weeks. I understand this made daddy happy.


I love you so very much daddy. I miss you now and always will.

Your loving daughter,


You can send email to Jennifer at: [email protected]
mail welcome

anniversary date 4-7-99
date of post 4-15-99

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Crisis, Grief, and Healing: Tom Golden LCSW