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Friday, May 6, 2016

Life is puzzling: Roachdale group puts it all together

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Joyce Rust, left, and Pat Allen show off a 3,000-piece puzzle depicting the Last Supper that the Roachdale Puzzle Club recently completed. The puzzle will be displayed at the Roachdale Presbyterian Church.
ROACHDALE -- When Pat Allen's husband died four-and-a-half years ago, she needed something to help keep her mind off her grief and keep her hands busy.

The Allens owned Allen's TV Sales & Services in Roachdale for 50 years when Bob Allen died.

"People thought I'd give up the shop, but I didn't," Allen said. "I read somewhere that doing (jigsaw) puzzles kept your mind sharp."

Allen set up a table in the back room of the shop and began putting puzzles together between customers. Eventually, Allen's friends and people from town began wandering into the shop and would sit down to talk and work on the puzzles with her.

"It really caught on," she said.

These days, a group of about 20 people come in and out of the shop throughout the week to work on puzzles. Some are single people, some are couples.

"The puzzle just goes on all day," Allen said. "People come in and out to work on it. It's really kind of a support group."

The group -- now called the Roachdale Puzzle Club -- is made up mostly of men and women in their 60s and 70s. They've had bright yellow t-shirts bearing the club name made, and have participated in local parades.

When someone in the group has a birthday, the members put together lunchtime parties.

The puzzles the group works on vary in size. They have done some as large as 3,000 pieces, and have had to add more tables to afford a larger workspace.

"All or our chairs and tables are hand-me-downs," Allen said. "We curb shop."

The group doesn't have to buy its puzzles, either. Through word-of-mouth, the public has found out about it, and puzzle donations have come pouring in.

Joyce Rust, a member of the club, said the group likes puzzles that are a minimum of 200 pieces -- and flat. They've tried doing three-dimensional puzzles, but didn't care for them.

"We've started them, but we've never finished one," she said. "We also had a Mickey Mouse once that was God-awful and we never did finish."

Alan Small, pastor at Roachdale Presbyterian Church, brought the group a 3,000-piece puzzle depicting the Last Supper. He requested the group put it together so it could be displayed in the church.

The puzzle was recently completed and glued together, and will be taken to the church soon.

There are stacks of finished puzzles on cardboard in the showroom of Allen's shop. Recently, representatives from The Waters of Greencastle came to take some puzzles to glue together and hang in residents' rooms.

Allen said she would love for other local nursing homes and assisted living facilities to follow suit.

"We feel like we'd be doing a community service for the nursing homes," she said.

They may be called the Roachdale Puzzle Club, but for those who belong to the group, membership holds a deeper meaning.

"It gives people a place to visit and talk," Rust said. "More important than the puzzles is the love and support we give each other. If someone has a problem, they know they can come here and we'll all sit down together and talk it out."

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How cool is that? And great to keep active minds busy and create friendships... Keep it up Puzzle Club. You're on to something!

-- Posted by bannerstuff on Thu, Jul 16, 2009, at 6:45 AM

This is so neat.....way to go Roachdale Puzzle Club! This sounds like great therapy for alot of lonely or widowed people out there. Great story.

-- Posted by tennismom on Thu, Jul 16, 2009, at 7:51 AM

One of the best "peices" of news I've heard in a while!

-- Posted by GreencastleResident on Thu, Jul 16, 2009, at 10:15 AM

I have personally been out to the Roachdale Puzzle club a couple of times and have had lunch with the group. They are all so unique, caring, and very interesting. I encourage young and older to go out and meet Pat. She is a great lady! I love Joyce as well! Both are absolute sweethearts. I'm so glad to hear that your puzzle club is going so well. Best of luck to all of you!!

-- Posted by youngtown on Fri, Jul 17, 2009, at 8:48 AM

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