By Joe Tennis | Features Writer / Bristol Herald Courier
Published: November 6, 2009
He liked his Mountain Dew cold and his pencils sharpened. And he loved Loretta Lynn.
But call Tom Arrington by his real name, “T-O-M,” and he would correct you: “It’s Conway,” he would say, tightly gripping his cane and imposing a friendly correction.
Make that “Conway” as in Conway Twitty, the late country singer.
Arrington, of Lodi, Va., had adopted the singer’s name and called himself that for years. Arrington had his own claim to fame, however: When he died Wednesday at age 73, he was believed to be the oldest man in history with Down syndrome.
Arrington died at Johnston Memorial Hospital in Abingdon, Va., and had been suffering from pneumonia and congested heart failure, said his niece, Ava Warren.
Born on May 20, 1936, Arrington arrived at Lodi as the last of eight children in his family and was born when his mother, Nannie Arrington, was 41 – an age that family members suspect could have prompted Conway’s genetic disorder.
Down syndrome is named for John Langdon Down, the doctor who described it in 1866. People with the syndrome have limited cognitive abilities; some have mild to moderate mental retardation.
Ava and Jeff Warren, Arrington’s caretakers, had worked on getting Arrington listed in the “Guinness Book of World Records” as the oldest man with the syndrome, but the family had not pursued all the paperwork, said Ava’s daughter, Rocky Warren.
“He was special all over,” said 24-year-old Rocky Warren, a great-niece who had spent much of her life caring for Arrington. “There was no one specific thing. He just was who he was.”
Arrington was the focus of a front-page article July 15, 2007, in the Bristol Herald Courier. Beloved and fun loving, Arrington would make noises like a bullfrog or a cow or an auctioneer. He carried dozens of pencils. And while he had never met Loretta Lynn, the famous “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” he would say she was his wife. Arrington would kiss her picture, Ava Warren said, and say that he loved her.
“He was always out in the public,” Ava Warren said. “And the neighbors and the community and everybody was really good to him – just treated him like he was one of them.”
Each year, the Warrens hosted a birthday party for Arrington, with hundreds coming to their farm in rural Washington County, Va.
Never married, Arrington had no children. He initially lived in the care of his mother. When she died in 1958, he moved in with Ava Warren’s late parents, Jack and Page Arrington. For nearly 30 years, he lived with Ava Warren and her husband, Jeff.
Arrington called Ava Warren his “mother,” Rocky Warren said.
“He was like a child,” Ava Warren added. “Loving and forgiving.”
Immer das Aktuellste
Tom Arrington - der wahrscheinlich älteste Mensch der Geschichte mit Down-Syndrom starb am Mittwoch mit 73 Jahren (englisch)
Freitag, 6. November 2009