Michael Thomas “Mike” Roarke, 88, died peacefully in the presence of his family on Saturday, July 27, 2019.
If Mike were writing this, it would simply read: “Mike died. Chrysler for sale.” But this humble man of Irish descent led an admirable life deserving of a few more words.
Born and raised in West Warwick, R.I., Mike was the son of the late Walter J. Roarke and Mary T. (Riley) Roarke. He was predeceased by his wife of 59 years, Merry Sue (Blair), and siblings Mary McKanna and John Roarke. Mike is survived by his five children: Susan Roarke, Thomas Roarke, Karen Roarke and her husband, Doug Cluff, Janet O’Connell and her husband, Patrick O’Connell, and Kelly Roarke. He leaves one brother, Walter F. Roarke, of West Warwick and his wife, Patricia. He was the proud Grampy/Papa to Michael O’Connell, Cameron Cluff, Hailey O’Connell, and Brennan Cluff.
Mike was a true gentleman and loyal friend. Honest, quiet, and personable, he possessed a dry wit and loved a good story. Besides golfing at his beloved West Warwick Country Club, he enjoyed a good book, a quick dip in a cold pool, a difficult crossword, a healthy bowl of coffee ice cream, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (or two), and, most of all, meeting friends for lunch at his favorite restaurant, A.J.’s.
He made his career in professional baseball for 42 years as a player, coach, and manager; most notably as a catcher for the Tigers and as a pitching coach for the Cubs, Cardinals, Padres, and Red Sox. He coached in two World Series and two MLB All Star Games.
Mike enjoyed speaking to school age youth about the importance of teamwork, sportsmanship, and unstructured play. He served on the board of directors for Big Brothers of Rhode Island for over 20 years and established a non-profit to support the renovation of John E. McCarthy Memorial Stadium in West Warwick. He was an ardent supporter of local charities and community organizations, especially those that were focused on giving a helping hand to those that needed one.
Vice president of West Warwick High School Class of 1948, Mike played football, baseball, and basketball; captaining all three sports his senior year. Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in 1952 from Boston College where he played football and baseball; captaining both teams. He was awarded the Thomas F. Scanlon Memorial Trophy in recognition of his scholarship, leadership, and athletic ability.
He was inducted into the following halls of fame: West Warwick High School, Boston College Varsity Club, Providence Gridiron Club, National Irish American Baseball, and Rhode Island Heritage.
A veteran of the Korean War, Mike served in the U.S. Army as a radio operator in Austria from 1952-1954.
Mike was a long time communicant of Immaculate Conception Church where he was a member of the St. Joseph’s Men’s Guild.
His funeral will be held Thursday, August 1, 2019 at 9:45 am from the PRATA-GALLOGLY Funeral Home, 78 Providence Street, West Warwick followed by an 11:00 am Mass of Christian Burial at Immaculate Conception Church, 237 Garden Hills Dr., Cranston. A collation will be held immediately following Mass. Visiting hours are Wednesday 4:00-7:00 pm. Interment will be private. In lieu of flowers, donations to the R.I. Special Olympics or McCauley Ministries would be appreciated. Information and condolences please visit: www.PrataGallogly.com
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