'He made the word neighbor a verb': 'Angel of Grandin' remembered at funeral

James Tarpley died Tuesday at 86 years old

ROANOKE, Va. – The "Angel of Grandin" now has his wings.

James Tarpley, a beloved figure in Roanoke's Grandin Village neighborhood, died Tuesday at 86. Hundreds of loved ones came to Heights Community Church on Saturday afternoon to say their final goodbyes.

Recommended Videos

"He cared about others," said Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea, who had presented Tarpley with the Citizen of the Year award last year. "He wanted to help others. He was driven by love."

Tarpley was remembered as a selfless man who became the eyes and ears of Grandin Village for more than three decades.

"He took the word 'neighbor' and moved it from a noun to a verb," said Heights Community Church Pastor Nelson Harris.

 "People didn't even realize how much he was doing until suddenly, it was done," added author Beth Macy, a longtime friend of Tarpley.

Tarpley's sister, Alice Reynolds, flew all the way from Detroit for the funeral. She told the mourners she's proud to see the lasting impact her brother left on Roanoke.

"His spirit will be in the hearts of all of those who he touched, and I know that was everybody in Grandin Village," Reynolds said.

Tarpley, who served in the Army during the Korean War, was buried with full military honors in Roanoke's Evergreen Burial Park.

Recommended Videos