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Man who died at quarry remembered as 'humor guy'

April 27, 2007|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Charles Arthur "Petie" Wroe was his wife's "humor guy" for nearly 40 years and a reliable quarry employee even longer.

Wroe, 65, of Martinsburg, died Wednesday afternoon while operating a large truck at the limestone mine and cement plant operated by ESSROC, just south of the city where he resided for most of his life.

"He will be missed. He's already being missed by his fellow employees," said Marco Barbesta, director of communications for ESSROC.

Wroe was operating a 100-ton haul truck that inexplicably traveled through a berm and plunged about 120 feet off a cliff to the bottom of the pit, officials have said. The cause of the accident still is under investigation.

Barbesta said company records indicate Wroe was "very experienced" with operating the truck, and noted that he also had done blasting and mechanical work, welding and other tasks in more than 42 years at the quarry. He was the most tenured employee at the plant, which in March employed about 170 hourly and full-time employees, Barbesta said.

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"He rarely missed any day at work," Barbesta said Friday in a telephone interview from the company's headquarters in Nazareth, Pa. "As you can imagine, he was a very popular person and was very well-known. I know for a fact that they're trying to cope with the loss down there."

ESSROC records show that Wroe began work at the quarry formerly operated by Capital Cement and Martin Marietta in June 1964, and Barbesta said the news of the longtime employee's death has been shocking to cement workers at operations elsewhere.

"It's been very hard on everybody," Barbesta said.

Judy Myers Wroe said Friday that her husband never talked about work, but she knew that he loved what he did. Outside of work, she said her husband would golf occasionally. But more often than not, he spent time with his wife of nearly 40 years, she said.

Wroe coached girls softball for several years and taught Sunday school. Judy Wroe said he taught her how to relax.

"He was my humor guy. He got me out of bad moods ... He never felt sorry for himself," she said.

Judy Wroe said she didn't know God until after she met her husband, who "waited for me to grow up."

"Maybe I'm here to carry on his legacy of good will," she said. "He always used to say to me, 'You don't know what seed you planted' in other people."

Now, she's hearing from people about the seeds he planted with them years ago, she said.

Before he met his wife, Wroe was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and served during the early years of the Vietnam War, she said.

After four years in the military, Judy Wroe said her husband decided not to re-enlist and returned home to Berkeley County, where his family had resided for many years.

"Petie," her husband's nickname, was given to him by his father, Arthur B. Wroe, she said.

"Most of the guys that knew him, called him Petie," Judy Wroe said. She called him Pete, instead.

In addition to his wife, Wroe is survived by one daughter, Kelly Wroe of Martinsburg; one son, Kevin M. Wroe of Martinsburg; two sisters, Brenda Wroe and Marcia Wroe; and one granddaughter.

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