Roy Selby was many things to Poolesville — a businessman, a civic leader, a former town commissioner, a volunteer firefighter — but most of all, he was the man who fed the town for generations.
On Saturday, he succumbed to cancer at Frederick Memorial Hospital, leaving friends and family — and the town — grieving.
His store, Selby’s Market, an anchor in the community, closed in early 2012.
On the town’s unofficial Facebook page, news of his death attracted dozens of comments.
“Roy Selby was not just a ‘part’ of our community, he was the nucleus of our community,” one commenter wrote. Others remembered him for welcoming them to town, or how he offered his store as a place for fundraisers for local groups.
John Repass of Beallsville met Selby when he went to work at the store when both men were in their teens.
They graduated in the same 26-person class — the largest to graduate at that time — at Poolesville High School. The two married girls from the slightly larger class of 1957, which had 27 or 28 students, he said.
Selby’s father and uncle started the store in 1946. Selby later took it over.
Over the years, it grew from a two-story house to a larger store on Fisher Avenue. The last location was the plaza near Poolesville High. The family moved the store there, anticipating development of new homes.
But that development began only recently, and in the interim, Selby closed his market, which had been part of the fabric of the town for generations.
“The houses they’re building now were supposed to have been built around 2000. I think if they had been built then, he wouldn’t have had to lose the store,” Repass said.
“The town will never be same,” he said. “They’ll definitely remember Selby’s, that’s for sure.”
Residents are planning a “celebration vigil” for Selby at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at Whalen Commons, according to Commissioner Valaree Dickerson.
On Thursday, there will be a viewing from 1 to 8 p.m. at the Memorial United Methodist Church on Elgin Road in Poolesville. Selby’s funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m.Friday at the church.
According to an obituary posted on the website of Hilton Funeral Home in Barnesville, Selby is survived by his wife, Betty Jean; son Roy “Lin” L. Selby III and wife, Leslie; son Michael R. Selby and wife, Corrine; son Bruce E. Selby and wife, Amy; daughter Lisa W. Selby; seven grandchildren; nephews; and a niece.
“What made Roy special was how could be a friend to all,” said Rande Davis, a longtime friend and fellow Lions Club member.
“He did so much for the town of Poolesville,” said Bob Cissel, another longtime friend.
He remembered Selby and his family venturing out in snowstorms to bring back milk for his customers. If he didn’t have it in his store, the Selbys would give you what was in their pantry.
For about 65 years, the store was the place to find eggnog on Christmas, catch up with friends over shopping or host a fundraiser. It was a place for teenagers to find their first job.
“He always had a positive attitude about everything, even his health, towards the end,” said Tim Bell, a longtime friend and golf partner.
“Nothing ever seemed to get under his skin,” he said.
Selby lived in the Poolesville area his whole life. Born in Germantown in 1938, he graduated from Poolesville High School in 1956. He married Betty Jean three years later.
Selby spent his life serving in local institutions. He joined the Upper Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Department when he was 18, and served for 12 years as a town commissioner. In 2009, he and Betty Jean were the grand marshals of Poolesville Day.
He did whatever he could for those around him, according to Dickerson.
“Every employee that worked for him, if they lost a relative, a friend — he sent a platter for free,” she said.
She still remembers when Selby caught her shoplifting from the store when she was 8. She tried to sneak a plastic egg filled with Silly Putty in her shoe. Selby and another employee took her upstairs, wondering if they should call the police, she remembers.
“I was freaking out,” Dickerson said.
After letting her stew for a little while, Selby eventually told her, “We’re going to let you go home.”
“To this day, I can’t tell you how much we talk about that story. ... It taught me the respect you have for a small place like that,” she said.
Above all, Selby is best known for his dedication to the town and his customers.
Selby kept his market open long after it stopped turning a profit.
“Any other person, I believe, would have walked away 10 years ago with money in his pocket,” Dickerson said. “He gave every single thing he had to this town.”