Fort Payne is losing a familiar face and voice.
For more than three decades, Roger Ingle, 66, has improved the quality of life in his community through his work with the Fort Payne Parks and Recreation Department, as a candidate for city council and as public address announcer and radio voice for Fort Payne athletics. Now he has moved to St. Louis with his mother to be closer to family.
“My immediate family’s all up there,” he said.
Ingle said he hadn’t even seen his new home other than on FaceTime, but it is located next to the local high school where his niece graduated.
“I’m hoping I can get involved with them somehow. It’ll be different, but I want my mom to be able to spend time with her daughter and grandkids. My sister has lived in St. Louis for 43 years. It is the best thing for us.”
Ingle said the move was not prompted by losing the 2020 city council race, but the circumstances cleared the path for his decision to move.
“If I’d gotten those extra 50 votes or whatever I needed to win a Council seat, I wouldn’t be moving. It was a factor but it wasn’t a deciding factor. I think I could have contributed. There were so many running this time, it spread the vote out. I wish the winners all the best,” he said.
Vowing not to become a stranger, Ingle said he plans to use his flight miles on Southwest Airlines to visit Fort Payne regularly during football season while he attends Alabama football games in Tuscaloosa.
In the age of Facebook, “you’re never really gone. I had somebody the other day tell me how much Fort Payne was going to miss me and I starting thinking, you know, I hadn’t seen him in person in about four years.”
Ingle started announcing games back in the late 1970s when Fort Payne played football in the field at the South Y where Twin City Used Cars now operates.
“Coach Brooks was the football coach and a guy named Harold Dobbs had to haul the big, bulky PA equipment down to those old bleachers when I first started doing things. I’ve done the basketball, the baseball and the football. I did the announcing on the radio and as FPTV started streaming the games. I remember sitting on the bench and doing chants with kids during all star games. Now their grandkids are up at the sports complex playing,” he said.
During his time behind the microphone, Ingle worked alongside people like Larry Hancock, the longtime play-by -man for Fort Payne athletics who retired four years ago.
“I was there beside him for many years, along with a lot of other folks. Ronnie Ross, Brant Craig, Campbell Smith. There’s been a lot of folks to come through,” Ingle said.
He doesn’t know who will replace him as announcer.
“I was just trying to make it through this season, which was more difficult with the COVID. But I made it through. My last time doing the PA announcement at the school was the girls tournament last week. I guess that’s the last thing I’ll do,” he said.
Ingle started full time with the Fort Payne Recreation Department in 1985 but worked with the city before that. Most recently, he led senior BINGO before the pandemic.
Fort Payne High School Principal Brian Jett said Ingle will be missed.
“Roger Ingle has been a fundamental part of our athletic programs here at Fort Payne High School for many years. From the radio/FPTV ‘voice of the wildcats’ to PA announcer at wildcat basketball and baseball games, Roger has dedicated countless hours to these programs and the student athletes who have been a part of them. We will miss Roger and his positive outlook on our school system and wish him nothing but the best in the future,” Jett said.
Asked what message he wants to send to his friends and fans locally, Ingle said, “Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.”