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Veteran and Dad, 57, Dies After Falling Off Ladder While Decorating His Home for Christmas

·4-min read
Mark Roath
Mark Roath

Facebook Mark Roath

A Texas father who had recently retired from the Air Force tragically died last weekend after falling from a ladder while decorating his home for Christmas.

Mark Roath died last Saturday, just two days after Thanksgiving, following the accident at his Arlington home, according to his obituary. He was 57.

Mark's wife of 23 years, Tammy Roath, told ABC affiliate WFAA that Mark was on a ladder putting up Christmas lights with their son on Nov. 26, right before noon, when the incident happened.

Though she is unsure of how it occurred, Tammy said she walked to the front of the home to find a distressing scene: Mark's body twisted in the ladder with his head resting against the driveway.

In a statement to PEOPLE, the Arlington Fire Department confirms they responded to the home after receiving a report of an injured person who fell from the "roof."

The man — later identified as Mark — was then transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, NBC affiliate KXAS reported, citing Arlington Police.

"I believe that he did not feel pain," Tammy told WFAA, adding that she thinks Mark suffered a fatal head injury during the fall.

Mark Roath
Mark Roath

Facebook Mark Roath

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The accident was especially heartbreaking for the family as Mark adored the holidays and always looked forward to putting up Christmas decorations, according to Tammy.

"He knew where everything went," she explained to WFAA. "It takes him two or three days."

In addition to loving the holidays, Tammy said her husband prioritized his family — including his three sons, two stepdaughters and daughter-in-law, per his obit — and his job in the Air Force.

He also enjoyed woodworking, especially making clocks and pens, and rooting for the Dallas Cowboys, according to his obituary.

"He was so committed to his family, to his church, and to the Air Force, to the military," Tammy told WFAA, adding that Mark began his service in the Air Force at 17 and recently retired after 38 years.

Mark was a member of the 301st Fighter Wing Maintenance Group for more than 21 years, according to a press release on the group's site.

During his career, Mark worked his way up to Master Sergeant while serving in two tours of duty in Afghanistan, two tours in Iraq and in Desert Storm during the Gulf War, according to his obit. Along the way, he earned himself several awards and accolades, including the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon.

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In their press release, the 301st Fighter Wing remembered Mark as a "kind and humble" man.

"He dedicated himself to helping others and would not hesitate sharing his expertise or wisdom through all ranks of the Maintenance Group," they wrote. "His work ethic was second to none and his positive attitude will be missed throughout the wing and the entire maintenance community."

"We are deeply saddened by Mark's passing," added Col. Allen Duckworth, 301st Fighter Wing commander, in a statement. "Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

According to WFAA, Mark's organs were donated and his family will be holding a funeral and burial service with full military honors. Visitation services are scheduled for this evening, with a funeral to follow on Saturday and a graveside service at Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery next Friday, per his obit.

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As they continue to grieve, Tammy is hoping to spread the word about Mark's story so that others do not experience similar tragedies.

"Don't do it alone. Have a ladder that is stable and secure," she told WFAA.

She added, "I want him to be proud of me. I want to continue representing him and our family."

In lieu of flowers, the Roath family has requested that people make a donation to three organizations: foldsofhonor.org, HolidaysandHeroes.org, or woundedwarriorproject.org.

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