UNION COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – “Where were you in ’62” was the campaign line from the movie “American Graffiti.”
In 1962, in Union, South Carolina, Russell Roark joined the city fire department. One year later, he switched and became a police officer.
Today, in 2023, “Chief” Russell Roark is still on the job. That’s at the age of 83, after 61 years on the job. And counting.
“I enjoy doing it. I just don’t want to go home, sit at the house and watch TV or anything. I just want to keep working,” Roark said.
He became known as Chief Roark when he became the chief of the Union Police in 1983. He held that job for 20 years before he decided to retire.
Well, he sort of retired.
“I got to thinking. I went to work (in) 62. There was a police officer there that had been there 36 years. He retired and he lived only nine months,” according to Roark.
“Two days after I left the city, I was working with the sheriff’s department.”
Chief Roark’s job now is to serve magistrate and family court papers across the county.
He turns in a 40-hour time sheet every week, but his math doesn’t quite add up.
Roark works closer to 50 hours.
“I usually come in at seven o’clock in the morning and leave at five. Sometimes I come out on the weekends if I’m behind. I serve papers sometimes on Saturdays,” he told 7NEWS. “I can serve a lot more sometimes on the weekend than during the week because people are home.”
“You’ll hear him on weekends on the radio, Saturday, Sunday. And then when you get his timesheet, he just turns in his regular hours,” according to Union County Sheriff Jeff Bailey.
Roark has lived his entire life in Union.
“He’s a special man,” Sheriff Bailey said. “He cares about people. He knows everyone in Union, and everybody knows the chief.”
The rest of the state of South Carolina knows something about him too. “Chief” Russell Roark was awarded the Order of the Palmetto in late 2021. The award recognizes outstanding service to the state.