Re-inventing oneself isn’t easy, but Boyle County resident Roy Edmiston has been able to do that many times in his life.
Edmiston, who jokingly calls himself a “jack of all trades and master of none,” has been the manager of a bar; a musician (and still is in his spare time); worked at the Edmiston Brothers Lumber Co. (later known as Boyle Lumber); worked at two engineering firms in surveying; co-owned a Danville painting store called Paint People; and retired from Centre College after 16 years.
However, after all that, the 61-year-old decided there was more to be done, mostly because he discovered something about himself.
“Two weeks into retirement, I thought, ‘This ain’t for me,’” he said, laughing.
So he started working for Danville-Boyle County Parks and Recreation where he has since painted the weight and exercise rooms, learned to be a weight coach, and might soon try his hand at refereeing. Edmiston uses his free time to play in a band and spend time with his three grandchildren.
Those three were a large part of his motivation to retire, following the death of his daughter in 2011 after a battle with pulmonary hypertension.
This is an incurable disease that occurs when arteries of the lungs become narrowed, blocked or destroyed, forcing the heart to pump harder, according to the Mayo Clinc.
Since retiring and starting again, Edmiston has begun wearing many hats at the William E. “Bunny” Davis Recreational Complex, always willing to try something new, especially if it involves meeting people.
“I love seeing people and talking to them. Everybody’s got their own story,” Edmiston said.
Being able to hear those stories is part of why he loves his job and why he says he looks forward to coming to work.
In the few short months that he’s been at the Bunny Davis Center, the home of the Parks and Recreation offices and the workout facilities, he has become a staple there, which is unusual considering how, just a year ago, Edmiston said he was “in a totally different place.”
He means that quite literally. At that time, he was still working at Centre and was 20 pounds heavier, with the passing of his daughter still very fresh in his mind.
When he began his job at Parks and Recreation, the possibility of becoming a weight instructor came up. That’s when Edmiston decided to become more knowledgable about the topic and, along the way, how he shed his own weight.
“It’s a learning experience … I thought, if I’m really going to get good at this, I need to learn. And the way I learned, I got my own weight instructor,” he said.
Calling on the knowledge of Ted Tolar Jr., he began to learn more about weightlifting and got in better shape.
“It’s kind of a win-win situation; I’m learning and getting into shape at the same time,” he said.
That awareness of health has made a big difference to Edmiston, who said it makes him feel better.
Among his long list of skills is as a drummer. His life in music has allowed him to play around the state and meet other well-known musicians, such as playing some songs with David Allan Coe and his band in a performance, and playing in the ACME Dynamite Co., which got to front for the Exiles.
Ultimately, it led him back to the region, pairing him with Danville native Michael Hughes, whom he originally met when they were both students at Danville High School and paired up in a biology class. A friendship was forged.
“We made a promise that if he ever got famous, he’d come get me, and if I ever got famous, I’d come get him,” Edmiston said, laughing.
Going the music route was a good choice for Edmiston, who says he will play for as long as he is able, or until (Danville funeral director) “Mary Stith comes to get me,” he said, with a grin.
He laughs a lot as he learns to enjoy life and “do the best” with the time he has. That’s a lesson that was driven home following his daughter’s death.
“When something that catastrophic happens, you just change,” he explained, adding, “Life is fleeting. That’s a hard lesson to learn.” However, it’s one he hopes others can see, explaining that it’s easy to get lost in the things that don’t matter.
“Don’t get so caught up in trying to live life that you lose what’s important,” Edmiston said.