Long-Time NarroWay Actor Takes Final Bow
Jack Joplin: July 21, 1935 - April 15, 2020
FORT MILL, S.C. - April 20, 2020 - On Wednesday, April 15, 2020, long-time NarroWay actor Jack Joplin took his final bow in this world and made a grand entrance into one far better. Jack was 84-years-old when he passed away peacefully at his home in Indian Land, South Carolina.
Jack was an original member of the NarroWay cast and performed on stage for more than 20 years. His lead roles included: Mr. Perkins in “Twenty Years Ago;" Uncle Zeb in “Not Just Another Love Story;" Colonel Lowe in “The Gospel According to Tennessee;" Fisherman John in “Geronimo;" the good shepherd in “Fishes and Loaves” and NarroWay’s biblical field trips; Farmer Jack in “The Little Red Hen;" and a villainous Pharisee in “The Fourth Cross," “Two Thieves and A Savior," “The Deliverer," and the King’s Arena opening of “Anno Domini."
Jack as a Pharisee
playing Mr. Perkins
as Uncle Zeb
as Colonel Lowe
While he could be equally passionate about characters which were both loved and hated on stage, off-stage Jack Joplin was a kind and gentle man, passionate about serving the Lord. In addition to his commitment to NarroWay, he volunteered as a Gideon for 36 years and spoke in many local churches. He was highly instrumental in the Gideons' Church Relations Ministry, particularly in the greater Charlotte area.
A salesman by trade, Jack was a natural conversationist and was often the last one speaking with audience at the end of a NarroWay show. He loved sharing stories with staff and cast and always made it a point to stop by the front desk to brighten the day. He almost always he had one of his beloved dogs, “Buddy” and later "Duke," by his side. Duke was laying beside Jack with his head on his check when Jack passed away.
Jack was born July 21, 1935 in Sissonville, West Virginia to the late Cephas Edward Joplin and Ruby Ethel Marion Joplin. He often shared fond memories of his West Virginia roots. He began his career as an extraordinary salesman selling newspapers at age 13.
Jack was selling office supplies when NarroWay was renovating King's Arena in 1997. He initiated a sales visit to see what office equipment might be needed. Director Rebecca Martin recalls: “I told him, ‘Mr Joplin, we can’t afford to buy a copier but you sure would make a good Pharisee’.” Little did he know how much that sales call would change everything. From that time forward, Jack was involved in every major show as well as mystery theatres, biblical field trips and children's shows as long as his health allowed.
Jack in the early years at King's Arena as a shepherd with cast member Tony Hyatt
Jack with directors Rebecca Martin and Yvonne Clark on Jack's 80th birthday
What many never realized was Jack's commitment to NarroWay behind the scenes. He was a skillful, willing handyman that could do just about anything. He repaired chainsaws, lawnmowers and weedeaters as needed. He custom built rolling carts to hold dinner trays used in the theatre. He hung doors, installed shelves, repaired office equipment and made stage props. When "The Gospel According to Tennessee" first took the stage in 2008, it was Jack who built a tin roof to fit an existing palace set piece and turn it into a country home, replacing columns with cedars he cut from his home.
Jack as Colonel Lowe in front of the house he was instrumental in creating for "The Gospel According to Tennessee"
He was ingenuitive, industrious and generous. He was always looking out for NarroWay and proactively finding ways to assist. He was often the first to welcome a new cast member and strike up conversation. He delivered hay for the animals and continued to do so even when his health kept him from the stage. When he could no longer drive, he rode along with his wife, Judy, to make sure NarroWay's animals had plenty of hay stored in the barn.
Jack was married to Judy Tritt Joplin for 39 years. She was the love of his life and he was not shy about saying it. He loved to tell everyone about how Judy made him a bowl of ice cream every night. Judy supported Jack wholeheartedly in his benevolence. While Jack was on the stage, Judy worked as part of NarroWay’s beloved food service team. The two shared a wonderful journey.
Jack is survived by his wife, Judy; his son, Jeff (Myra) Joplin of Great Falls, NC; his siblings, Joe (Bev) Joplin of Charleston, WV and Helen Armstrong of Winchester, VA; two grandchildren, Jeffrey (Renay) Joplin, and Erica Joplin; and two great-grandchildren, Paislee and Paige.
Jack Joplin is much loved and sorely missed by the directors, staff and cast of NarroWay Productions. But we know he has been welcomed home with loving arms to a new stage- one not made by human hands. There, he will undoubtedly meet many whose lives were changed because of his service at NarroWay, the Bibles he made possible through the Gideons and the lives he intersected on a personal level. His work is done in this world, but the impact will last through eternity.