The Adairsville resident, who touched countless lives through his work with nonprofits, died Saturday at the age of 77. Along with forming Empty Food Pantries Inc. with his wife, Mary, Stoner also served on the boards of various charitable organizations in northwest Georgia over the past 20 years.
“Roy lived to serve others, so it was natural for him to be on the [Good Neighbor] Homeless Shelter board,” said Janet Strange, Good Neighbor’s founder and executive director from 1996 to 2004. “He possessed a warm and open personality and was a great storyteller. In spite of personal tragedy and dealing with suffering on a daily basis, he had a wonderful sense of humor. ... He provided great support to me in the leadership position. [He was] always hopeful and encouraging.”
To assist Bartow County’s homeless population, Stoner served on the board of the Good Neighbor during its early years. Since forming in 1996, Good Neighbor has assisted more than 5,200 people. While they are housed in the 4,600-square-foot facility that was built in 2001, Good Neighbor’s guests are required to find a job within four weeks, and the shelter’s staff helps them establish savings, focus on problem-solving skills and chart out future housing options. Along with a computer lab, the Good Neighbor now also features a transitional housing component to its organization.
“He just had the biggest heart,” said Marina Robertson, who served on the Good Neighbor’s board with Stoner before becoming the nonprofit’s executive director from 2004 to 2009. “He couldn’t bear to see anybody go hungry. I think that was the basis of getting involved with the shelter and there were so many times that if we needed food, Roy was going to go out and get it because he didn’t want people to go hungry.
“He was on the board and [providing] shelter [to the homeless] was very important [to him], and he wanted to make a difference. But as soon as it was clear that the shelter was up and running, he was our go-to food guy. He was just a very special person.”
Throughout the years, Stoner’s Empty Food Pantries — operating at 720 Martin Luther King Drive in Cartersville — has offered supplies, when needed, to food pantries in Bartow County, as well as nonprofits, such as Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, Advocates for Children’s Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter and Hickory Log Vocational School.
“We are a community food bank. We can gather the food at one place, then give it to pantries that distribute it to people who come in,” Stoner told The Daily Tribune News in 2007, adding the ministry also provided free food on-site to residents in emergency situations, who are generally recommended by churches or shelters. “The need is every day here. It is not just on holidays or special occasions. It is year-round.
“We helped one lady that had three children. Her husband was in the National Guard and he was called up to go to Iraq. Before that, their combined income was more than $40,000. Now they have lost their home, because a private doesn’t make very much. A lot of people come in here for different reasons,” he said, such as elderly residents on fixed incomes or individuals, who have lost their homes due to fire. “Each case is different.”
Stoner’s family will receive friends Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Owen Funeral Home, 12 Collins Drive in Cartersville. On Saturday at 2 p.m., the funeral service will be held at Owen Funeral Home, with interment following at the Stoner Farm’s family cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hickory Log Vocational School — P.O. Box 300, White, GA 30184.