Gilbert Wilson “Buddy” Rolston, Jr., 90, of Salem, Virginia, died on Thursday evening, March 15, 2012 at Woodhaven Nursing Home in Montvale, Virginia. Buddy was born on April 29, 1921 in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and was the son of the late Dr. Gilbert Wilson and Dorothy Waller Parr Rolston.
He lived in Linville, near Harrisonburg, VA, and after graduating from high school, he proudly served his country during WWII in the U.S. 749th Army Air Force Base Unit as a Staff Sergeant Radio Operator and was awarded the Good Conduct Medal, Victory Medal WW II, American Campaign Medal, and Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal. After the war, he owned a sporting goods store in Harrisonburg and then moved to Salem with his wife, Pat, to raise his three daughters. Buddy's love of travel and new experiences was reflected in his brief times as a truck driver in the Chicago area where he was fondly known as “the Rolling Stone”. During most of his career, he worked as a railroad engineer for Norfolk and Western in Roanoke, Virginia. After his retirement, he enjoyed restoring planes in New London and rebuilding cars in Catawba with his friends, Randall Hancock and Tim Weitzel. Vintage cars from his shop were brought to the movie set of Dirty Dancing during its filming at Mountain Lake. Buddy also enjoyed going to Bluegrass festivals, car shows, and walking his dogs through the mountains.
He was preceded in death by his parents; daughter, Sharon Kennedy of Catawba, Virginia; sisters, Anne R. Frank and Margaret R. (Peggy) Epperley; and wife, Pat Patterson.
He leaves behind his wife and stepson, Carolyn Lythgoe-Rolston and Keith of Chesterfield, VA; daughter and son-in-law, Cindy and John Salay of Midlothian, Virginia; daughter and son-in-law, Kimberly and John O'Dell of Thomson, Georgia; sister, Dorothy Rolston Dawson of Mt. Solon, VA; son-in-law, Joe Kennedy of Roanoke, VA; and three grandchildren, Michael and Katherine Kennedy, and David Salay.
Buddy had made it known to his family and close friends that he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes scattered through the mountains. Since these were his wishes, there are no plans for a viewing or service. The family would like to thank Woodhaven Nursing Home Staff for their superior care of Buddy. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that memorial contributions in Buddy's memory be made to Woodhaven Nursing Home at P.O. Box 168 in Montvale, VA 24122. The Rolston family is being served by John M. Oakey & Son Funeral Home and Crematory in Salem, 540-389-5441.