Skip to content

Daniel (Dan) Allen Roat

Daniel (Dan) Allen Roat, 87, of Havana passed away July 2 at Havana Healthcare Center, surrounded by loving family. He was born February 13, 1935, to Henry George Roat and Julia Hulda (Hendricker) Roat, the 9th of eleven children. He attended Roat School, District 58 and, as he always said, graduated “In the top half of the bottom third of his class (of two students).” He went on to graduate from Havana High School in 1952. He was very proud of his 12 year record of perfect attendance. From October 1954 to October 1956, he served as a clerk in the Army at Camp Chaffee, Arkansas. With his large cow-milking farmer hands, it’s ironic that his assignment was to type the dog tags for all new inductees. Later he was a member of the American Legion Post #138 and greatly enjoyed activities with his colleagues. After completing his service in the Army, Dan returned to Havana and continued farming, doing custom baling for other farmers in Mason County, raising dairy cattle, red angus beef cattle and hogs, and growing alfalfa, rye, wheat, corn, soybeans, green beans (for Green Giant), popcorn (for Pop Weaver), sweet corn, milo, pumpkins, cantaloupe, and perhaps most famously, watermelons. Dan was approached by Dr. Oirie J. Eigsti, a plant geneticist and college professor, to assist him in his development of the hybrid seed for the seedless watermelon. Dr. Eigsti was successful in his attempts and Hybrid 313, the gold standard, is still on the market today. Dan was a generous man who delighted in sharing his bounty with others and surprising them with a melon left on their steps or in their car anonymously. His melons were known throughout Mason County as being the sweetest tasting. Dan was a lifelong member of the Havana Nazarene Church and served as a youth group leader, church board member, Sunday School superintendent, Junior High Sunday School teacher and church van driver. He was beloved by his students and community members. He enjoyed participating in two mission trips, one to El Salvador and one to Trinidad and Tobago. He had a great reading voice and was often asked to speak or narrate. Although he wasn’t fond of being the center of attention, he always added his own humorous spin. He also was involved with the Northwest Illinois District Church of the Nazarene and was a Senior High Camp Counselor, was elected as a delegate to Nazarene General Assembly and served as a District Advisory Board member for many years. He was honored by the Nazarene Church with a Distinguished Service Award. His faith was the defining aspect of his life, influenced all his decisions and sustained him through difficulties. He was never pushy with his beliefs but rather lived them out quietly, helping other people. While others might look at his life and think that he was taken advantage of because of his generosity, he never saw it that way. He did not criticize other people but always brought out the best in them. Dan is survived by his wife of 62 years, Edith Eleanor (Ediger) Roat (m. July 30, 1960), his daughter Lenora Roat Arrington (Daniel Richard Arrington III) (Mt. Airy, MD), his son Gregory Allen Roat (Shelly Lynn Genseal Roat) (Athens); grandchildren Daniel Richard Arrington IV (Mary Mock Arrington), James Arrington, Lucas Arrington, Anna Arrington, Jeslyn Roat, Sam Roat; great-grandchildren Charlotte Arrington, Owen Arrington, Vivian Arrington and Henry Arrington; Sister, Carol Reedy (Prescott, AZ); Sisters-in-law: Sue Roat (Marvin) and Katie Roat (Gerald); many nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents Julia and Henry Roat, siblings (in-laws) Charles (Thelma) Roat, Alice (Jack) Murphy, Mildred (Earl) Park, Roy (Florence) Roat, Paul (Lynette) Roat, Bess (Dean) Wade, John (Phyllis) Roat, Marvin Roat, Gerald Roat, (Doug Reedy). Dan was known to his friends, family and community as a man of impeccable integrity, solid values, generosity, kindness and dependability. He was a bit of a stoic person and didn’t display a lot of emotion but anyone who knew him, knew that he cared about them. He was also quite a jokester, the inventor of the “dad joke” (i.e. “Have you ever seen a cow’s tail before? No? That’s because it’s always behind!”) He had a great sneaky sense of humor and always made people laugh. Over the years, Dan made a lasting impression on many young people in his community, quietly giving people jobs on the farm if they were out of work or needed a summer job. He made work fun and many people worked for him for years. No one could out-work Dan Roat. He never gave the hard jobs to others while taking the easy jobs for himself. He would work right alongside anyone he hired. He was patient with people and never had a negative word to say about anyone, even if they did bury the dead pigs with all the legs sticking out of the ground or run over the water hydrant…twice. He was hardworking, never complained, and until his diagnosis with Alzheimer’s, was never sick. Even while undergoing 40 radiation treatments for prostate cancer, he would get up early, work for a few hours (it was planting season), drive to Peoria for the treatment (he insisted on driving on the way there) and then sleep in the car on the way home and go right back to work. With the exception of his time in the Army, he had never lived anywhere but the farm. He was born in the back room of his parents’ farmhouse. With the help of his brother Paul, he built his own home next door to his parents’ home. In 2018 he moved to the Lodge in Manito and lived on the memory care unit where he entertained and delighted the staff with his orneriness (like deliberately setting off the door alarm daily so the staff would come running while he giggled) until December 2021 when he moved to Havana Healthcare Center, where he was affectionately known to the staff as “Dan Dan the Watermelon Man.” The family is deeply grateful to the staff at both the Lodge in Manito and Havana Healthcare Center for their loving, kind care of Dan. A celebration of life service is planned for early August. Details to follow soon. Memorial gifts may be given to the Alzheimer’s Association or the Havana Church of the Nazarene in Dan’s name. Hurley Funeral Home in Havana is in charge of arrangements.

Leave a Comment