Dr. Annie Roark 'Matriarch of the Eastside' buried in an unmarked grave

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Dr. Anne Davis Roark left an incredible legacy in Wichita Falls. The woman known as the Matriarch of the Eastside was buried in an unmarked grave. The Wichita Falls Historical Commission is trying to rectify that situation.

Dr. Roark – also called Annie – was a podiatrist. She opened her practice in 1923 in Wichita Falls. The area and her patients were mostly white, thus breaking many racial barriers.

Not long ago the Museum of North Texas erected a historical marker where the Isis Theater once stood on Flood St. Roark owned the theater, as well as a hotel.

Becky Trammell headed the research on Dr. Roark and found that her gravesite – which is said to be next to her husband's – is unmarked.

Trammell said, "I felt a bit lost because I had read all this history and found all this history about this really amazing woman, and she didn't have a headstone on her grave."

The Wichita Falls Historical Commission hosted a fundraiser in her honor in hopes of purchasing a headstone.

Wichita County Archivist Bill White helped put the fundraiser together. He feels the event showed there are still good people, "I think with all the negativity that's going on in the news and the world today it's refreshing to get to try to do something good. I think people are just really happy to be able to take part in something that has a good purpose."

Rev. Dr. John White was a close friend of Roark. The 92-year-old man still owns a barbershop across the street from where Roark's practice used to be. He also is the senior pastor of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Wichita Falls. He said she left a mark on his life.

He said, "She always had a smile but you couldn't mess with her, because she'd get you straightened out."

He hopes that people continue to dedicate themselves to remembering her legacy.

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