TULALIP — Jarred Rome, the two-time Olympic athlete who grew up in Marysville, has died.
He was 42.
His older sister said he was found dead Saturday morning by friends. Rome was in town to celebrate his induction into the Snohomish County Sports Hall of Fame, which took place Wednesday night in Everett. Monica Rome said her brother went out with friends to the Tulalip Resort Casino and wasn’t feeling well Friday. People checked on him through the night, and he was found unresponsive Saturday.
The cause and manner of death were not known to the family.
During his acceptance speech last week, the Marysville Pilchuck High School graduate spoke of being ready to give up discus throwing in 2003. He said his mother convinced him to stick with it.
That decision was well rewarded.
Rome represented the United States at the Olympic Games in 2004 and 2012. In 2011, he claimed a silver medal at the Pan American Games, for which he was named the Herald’s Man of the Year in Sports. A decade before that, he was ranked as one of the top 10 Snohomish County athletic talents by the Herald’s sports editors and reporters.
Success, he said at the hall of fame banquet, stemmed from failure and support.
“… I had lots of failure,” Rome told the audience. “I was never the top thrower in high school, I was never the top thrower in college. I considered myself to be the hardest worker. I never had the talent, I frankly never believed I could make the national team, that was never a goal of mine. The support I had shows tonight from the family and friends who are here, without your support I would never be here.”
He was director of Ironwood Thrower Development Camp in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and was a track and field assistant coach for throws at Boston University in Massachusetts, for which he had moved to the East Coast in the summer of 2018.
Working with developing throwing athletes was his passion, his sister said. Even when a fellow discus competitor sought help, Rome was happy to lend his time and expertise.
Mike Torie, who also grew up in Marysville and was a 2004 graduate of Lakewood High School, was a top U.S. discus thrower in 2013, just like Rome. Torie credited Rome for helping advance his throwing career.
Rome’s work meant he wasn’t in town often, but when he could, he made time for his family.
While others knew him as a coach or for his athletic accomplishments, his sister said she knew him as a hugger who was humble and kind, and laughed when she talked about not having an encyclopedic knowledge of his accolades.
“It wasn’t like that in our family,” she said. “We were proud of his accomplishments, of course, but it was about treating people well first. They mean nothing if you treat people poorly.”
People posted messages of grief and remembrance to her Facebook page, including from strangers, she said. One in particular stood out, in which a former grade-school classmate who used a wheelchair recalled Jarred respecting him and being nice.
“He never treated him like, ‘the kid in the wheelchair,’ even when other kids treated him poorly,” she said.
Others shared memories of their “Superman,” a nickname he took on with humor.
“He looked a lot like Christopher Reeves,” his sister said. “Because of that, my dad and him would go on cruises and wear tuxedos and wear the Superman shirt underneath. It was super cute.”
Rome is survived by his wife, Pamela Rome, parents Dan Rome and Jane Blackwell, and his two sisters.
His mother has his silver medal, Monica Rome said.
Ben Watanabe: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3037; Twitter @benwatanabe.
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