A half century of service

XENIA — At 78 years old, Roger Shambaugh is alive and well and as active as any other community member half his age.

Set aside his decades in television and radio, the half century he’s worked helping feed the needy in the Miami Valley, his involvement in prison ministries throughout the state, his brief comedic career and all the accolades preceding a man devoted to serving others throughout the decades – Roger Shambaugh’s legacy began with a simple act of kindness at his childhood home.

“My mother was a good Christian woman,” Shambaugh said. “She raised us in the church… But my father was disabled. He was stricken with a strange and unexplained illness when we were young. He went from 165 pounds to 94 pounds; he became nothing but skin and bone.”

With his dad unable to work and provide with no Social Security, Shambaugh remembers how some of the area churches at the time would help them out with food and other items and the act of kindness resonated with him.

“I remember thinking to myself: ‘You know what… I am going to do this,” he said. “When I got older I started paying it forward on my own… It was a hard time. I remember a lot of people from the churches coming in our home and praying over him for healing… and a lot of those people died before him.”

In addition to a little support from area churches, Shambaugh went to work at a young age – mowing yards and doing farm work (milking cows, bailing hay and hauling manure) until he got a job at age 14 at the Spring Valley Canning Factory.

“They weren’t supposed to hire anyone until age 16,” he said. “Bates Harcum, who later became mayor of Wilmington, knew about our situation and wanted to help.”

Eventually, in the last year or two of his dad’s life, Social Security eventually started giving his family one or two dollars a day for his dad’s disability.

“By then it was too late,” Shambaugh said. “My father died after 14 years of fighting that illness.”

Asked how one would summarize a lifelong career of serving others and serving God and Shambaugh said: “You can’t.

“It’s not what you take when you leave this world behind you—it’s what you leave behind you when you go.”

Born to Horace and Margaret Chittum Shambaugh in Xenia on March 14,1939, Roger Shambaugh graduated Spring Valley High School in 1957. Soon after he graduated, he went to work for the Forester Organization selling insurance among other things.

In 1971 he married his wife Geraldine “Gerry” Gibson after dating several weeks. Shambaugh was single at the time and met her at a local bowling alley. She passed away in January of this year after 45 years of marriage. She, like Roger, served God helping others and between the two them they had two children from a previous marriage. More than 200 people came out to her funeral this year at A House of Prayer Church in Xenia.

“She was also very active helping people,” Shambaugh said. “She was a good Christian woman; she loved the Lord.”

At the age of 33, in 1974, Shambaugh ran as an independent for the office of State Representative for Greene County – losing in part because of the tornado hitting the area prior to voting time that election year.

Then, about 30 years ago, the state officially honored Shambaugh for 20 years of service.

“I remember it was in 1965 that I started giving back,” he said. “The Foresters asked for volunteers to deliver Christmas food baskets to needy families in Dayton.”

That event also had a profound impact on Shambaugh.

“I will never forget that first family,” he said. “They had six kids. They were all dirty and hungry and it was Christmas time and there weren’t any gifts under their tree. It brought tears to my eyes. I thought to myself: ‘I have to do what I can do to help.’”

From that day forward, Shambaugh made it his mission to help others in need – getting connected to area churches and food pantries to start delivering food – including his long involvement with the local “Helping Hands” organization.

“I delivered for other churches around Christmas,” he said. “We would visit with families and orphaned kids. I remember we visited 200 orphaned kids at one point.”

Amidst all this, Shambaugh was in radio from 1990 to 2015.

Earlier this summer his network television show, the Gospel Today show celebrated 24 years in June. Spectrum airs that show at various times throughout the week.

Of all his accomplishments throughout the various decades, Shambaugh says most importantly he truly became saved in 1981 – although he spent his life going to church.

“The pastor gave a really good sermon,” Shambaugh said of that date. “The room was filled with the Holy Spirit and I started crying. Good works alone doesn’t make you saved. You need Jesus.”

An active network marketing expert, Shambaugh says he does not intend to retire any time soon.

Today he successfully sells alkaline water systems – Kangen Water – which he describes as a fountain of youth that solves a whole slew of medical problems and conditions.

“Seventy percent of the body is water,” Shambaugh said, explaining these water systems. “We have had a lot of success with helping people with all sorts of ailments.”

Today, Shambaugh remains very active and involved with a variety of churches throughout the area.

“I’m going all the time,” he said. “I’m involved in committees and doing service work. I do a lot of different things… I go on and each day I thank the Lord I am able to do something .He’s been good to me to put me in front of a lot of well known people.”

As a nation, Shambaugh says society has come a long way in feeding the needy.

“Things are better today than they were back then,” he said. “Back then, you either had it or you didn’t… This work we do is the Lords work. I don’t want credit. I am just His servant.”

For his long-running show over the decades, Shambaugh has interviewed countless Christian celebrities such as the Gaithers, famous professional sports athletes and locals.

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Brian Evans | Xenia Gazette Xenia’s Roger Shambaugh, 78 is proud of his decades of dedication to his community.
https://www.xeniagazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2017/09/web1_shambaugh.jpgBrian Evans | Xenia Gazette Xenia’s Roger Shambaugh, 78 is proud of his decades of dedication to his community.

Shambaugh displays an award recognizing his and his late wife’s community work from then Senator Steve Austria.
https://www.xeniagazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/32/2017/09/web1_shambaugh2.jpgShambaugh displays an award recognizing his and his late wife’s community work from then Senator Steve Austria.
Local reflects on legacy

By Brian Evans

For the Gazette

Brian Evans is a freelance writer for Greene County News.