Eddie Monroe: a giving man, who went at his own pace

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2012

By Mark Wineka
SALISBURY – Eddie Monroe loved rabbit hunting so much, at times he might not even take his gun.
Just being in the fields and woods and letting his beagles run – that was sometimes enough for Monroe.
“For Eddie, it wasn’t about how many rabbits he got,” The Rev. Mike Motley said Tuesday.
After he heard of Monroe’s death Monday, Scott Gobble changed the profile picture on his Facebook page. The picture Gobble chose was one of Monroe, his dear friend, standing in front of a small, abandoned church in Davie County.
It was during one of their motorcycle rides through the country.
Gobble had ridden by the church many times, but it took Monroe, who was never in a hurry, to notice in his first pass by the ramshackle chapel that its tower still had a bell.
“He had an eye for desirable antiquities,” Motley said.
Monroe was killed Monday afternoon in a freakish accident on U.S. 29 near the Yadkin River. For some reason, he had stopped his pickup and walked onto the road, leaving the vehicle running and in gear.
The truck ran over Monroe and went off the highway before coming to rest against a fence. Eddie was 67.
Many of us came to know Eddie Monroe through tragedy. His 19-year-old son, Justin, was one of the two Salisbury firefighters who died in the Salisbury Millwork fire more than four years ago.
For one long week, Eddie was the stoic husband and father for a family and this community.
He and his wife, Lisa, had to search for healing, while everyone wanted to share in their grief. They appreciated every kindness, but those days – and all that attention – were difficult.
People waited four hours at Justin’s visitation, just for the chance to talk a few seconds with the Monroes.
Eddie and Lisa returned to our collective conscience every year, when the city held a memorial service on the anniversary of the fire.
“I think about the Book of Job, with all they’ve been through,” Gobble said.
Eddie had a serious motorcycle accident in May 2011 when he was on one of those country motorcycle rides with Gobble, heading for Montgomery County.
As always, Monroe, going at a slower pace, was trailing Gobble when he lost control of his bike in a curve.
Motley, Eddie’s older son, Mark, and others kept an all-night vigil at the hospital. The doctor had explained that with the swelling on Eddie’s brain and his fever, there was a chance he wouldn’t make it.
But the fever broke and Eddie recovered almost fully, coping with spine and hand surgeries, multiple fractures and internal bleeding.
Within the last month, Gobble said, Monroe had eased back onto the motorcycle, though never for a long ride.
“Eddie and Lisa both have been through a tremendous amount of stuff,” Gobble said. It made him look at his own life and ask himself, what if these kinds of things had happened to him.
“Losing Justin really tried his faith,” Gobble said, “but I still saw him making progress. I’ll miss Eddie and everything about him. … He was just an awesome friend.”
Richard Monroe, a brother and owner of Richard’s Barbecue on North Main Street, said a lot of people knew Eddie Monroe.
Eddie was among the first workers ever hired for the Fiber plant on U.S. 70. Richard recalled that Eddie would work the first shift on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and the second shift on Thursday and Friday. It was back then, Richard said, that Eddie started dove hunting.
Later, Eddie owned and worked in several bars and restaurants in Salisbury. Richard said his brother was involved in opening the Carriage Room, which is still in business near the Salisbury Mall.
Eddie Monroe also worked on and off as a cook at Richard’s over the years, and it’s there that he met Lisa, who was waitressing at the time. They were married for about 25 years.
Richard Monroe said his brother was in and out of the barbecue restaurant about every day.
On Monday and Thursday nights, the Gobbles always joined Eddie and Lisa for dinner at Richard’s.
Eddie and Mark, his son from a previous marriage, were close, Richard said. Mark stayed by his father’s side during the tough days after Justin died and after Eddie’s own accident.
“He always has been there for Eddie for everything,” Richard Monroe said.
In a nutshell, Eddie Monroe liked to hunt, fish and ride motorcycles, He had an eye for antiques and classic cars and enjoyed attending auctions.
Motley, the pastor at Trading Ford Baptist Church, met both Eddie and Lisa Monroe through his youngest son, Andrew.
Motley had moved back to his native Rowan County in 1999, and Andrew, then in the sixth grade, came home one day excited because he had found a friend who also liked to hunt and fish.
That friend was Justin Monroe. The boys were born on the same day.
Their friendship led to the Monroes’ becoming active members of Trading Ford Baptist. Motley and his sons also started joining Eddie and Justin on hunting and fishing trips, and Motley and Eddie also hit the road on their motorcycles.
“You’d never meet a more humble man,” Motley said. If anyone was the opposite of pretentious, Motley added, it was Eddie Monroe.
The church formed a fellowship group made up of motorcycle riders.
“The whole group would have to go at Eddie’s pace,” Motley recalled. “He was never in a hurry.”
Motley also saw Monroe’s quiet, giving side, He frequently would tell the pastor to let him know of anyone in need.
Lisa and Eddie became part of a grief support group at Trading Ford Baptist. But Motley saw that it was half for themselves and half for their wanting to help others who had faced great loss.
“Eddie would bend over backward to do something for you,” Gobble said. “… He was a wise man. He had been through a lot, and I just loved him to death. I’ll surely miss him.”
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@salisburypost.com.