'He loved the people of Rowan County' Former county commissioner Frank Tadlock loses battle with cancer
By Jessie Burchette and Susan Shinn
Friends remember Frank Tadlock as a man who loved his family, community and county.
And he was man who loved serving as a member of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, always choosing civility and compromise over harsh words and controversy.
Tadlock, 70, died Tuesday evening at Carolinas Medical Center after a year-long battle with brain cancer.
On Dec. 7, 2005, doctors at Carolinas told Tadlock that he had an aggressive form of cancer with the likelihood he had two weeks to two months to live.
He underwent surgery and then repeated trips to the National Health Institute in Bethesda, Md., for experimental treatments that left him frail.
Throughout, he continued to attend commissioner meetings. When he became unable to walk, family members, county employees and fellow commissioners would help him in and out of vehicles, in and out of his wheelchair.
On a couple of occasions, when the elevator in the county building wouldn’t work, they carried him up the steps to the second floor.
He was determined to serve out his term.
Many believe that his commitment to that job kept him going against the worst of odds.
“He wanted to do that job to the fullest, he loved the people of Rowan County,” said his widow, Sue Tadlock.
“In my opinion, he willed himself to make it through his term,” said Arnold Chamberlain, chairman of the Board of Commissioners. “It was painful to see him struggle.”
“Frank’s life was prolonged by his wanting to serve his term. He hadn’t been off the board a month,” said Newton Cohen, former chairman who served with Tadlock.
“I gained by knowing Frank,” Cohen said. “I don’t think Frank had an evil bone in his body. He was a Christian gentlemen. I never heard him say an unkind word about anybody.”
“There is now another good man in heaven,” said Chamberlain, who served with Tadlock for six years.
“He was such a great guy, a loving Christian gentleman,” Chamberlain said.
Although Chamberlain and Tadlock had had some rocky times in the past, they had forgiven each other and become good friends.
“He loved his county,” Chamberlain said, recalling that Tadlock would call him frequently to check on county business. “He wanted to know what was going on and if he could help. He would always end the call, ‘Arnold, if you need me, call.’ ”
Among Tadlock’s achievements as a commissioner is the teacher supply money that provides teachers $250 a year to buy` classroom supplies. The program, which has drawn widespread praise, is in its eighth year.
While the county got to know Tadlock after he became a commissioner in 1996, most of the southern part of the county already knew him well as a businessman, community booster and a man who got things done.
He served for 20 years as president of Corriher Beef & Sausage, the company founded by his wife’s father, Frank Corriher.
He became known across the state and nation in trade associations including serving as president of the American Association of Meat Processors.
He was equally comfortable at a classy dinner affair or cooking ham and eggs for workers at Corriher Beef & Sausage.
“Frank was a good man,” Gary Ritchie, the owner of Gary’s Barbecue in China Grove, said Wednesday morning. “He loved his family. He loved the Frank Corriher sausage business and he loved Rowan County. He tried his best to satisfy everybody with his job on the county commission.”
The two men had a personal and business relationship for 35 years. Their wives, Sylvia Ritchie and Sue Tadlock, were also good friends, and the four were frequent travel companions over the years.
The Ritchies visited Tadlock often over the past year.
“I never once heard him complain about being in pain, or complain by saying, ‘Why me?’ ” Ritchie said. “He was just very positive. He fought it as hard as he could.”
Ritchie visited Tadlock on Christmas Day and took him lunch on Sunday. He realized that Tadlock had taken a turn for the worse.
That was the last time he saw Tadlock. He said that Tadlock’s family had said their goodbyes on Tuesday, although Ritchie did not get there in time.
“We had talked about it,” Ritchie said of Tadlock’s death. “He told me, ‘I don’t think I’ve got that long,’ and I told him, ‘Just fight it as hard as you can.’ ”
“One of his main goals was to serve his term out as county commissioner. He did that.”
Tadlock was also pleased that the South Rowan Regional Library was recently renamed in his honor, Ritchie added.
“That’s quite a tribute,” Ritchie said. “That was a big thing they did for him, and he really appreciated that.”
Tadlock’s family recently took him by the library on Kimball Road to see the newly- installed sign. “He was very happy with the library,” Sue said.
And Tadlock’s family has a lot of good memories.
On Christmas Eve, he told his wife he needed to go to town. “I need to get the grandkids some gift cards,” Tadlock said.
With the help of his son, Brian, they loaded up and made the stops — Gary’s, Wendy’s, McDonald’s. “He knew it was Christmas, and he was thinking of the children,” Sue said. “We had a wonderful Christmas.”
The day after Christmas, they again drove to Bethesda for another treatment, returning Dec. 27.
Sue noticed that he appeared to be getting weaker on Friday and Saturday.
On Sunday morning, when they were unable to wake him, he was transported to Rowan Regional Medical Center. After tests, doctors detected swelling in the brain.
He was transported Sunday night to Carolinas Medical Center.
After a brain scan, doctors advised the family that his brain ” was very sick,” preparing the family for what followed.
He died about 6:40 p.m. Tuesday.
While his body failed, his wife said his mind was good. She quoted him as often saying, “I just know there are a lot of good things I can do for Rowan County.”
Sometime around Christmas, she said he talked about how much he missed Frank Corriher.
As he lay in the hospital bed Tuesday, a nurse told the family that he could hear them — even if he couldn’t respond.
Sue said she told him, “Get ready to go now and meet Daddy at the gate.”
Linn-Honeycutt Funeral Home in China Grove is handling arrangements.
The family will receive friends from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday at the funeral home. The funeral will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Reform Church in Landis.