In Tribute: County farmer loved to fly

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

With the possible exception of a game of golf around the world, Allen Rogers didn’t take a break from working, or writing about the work he had to do.

“He never retired,” daughter Marty Lamb said. “Even before he died, he was on the lawn mower … and he had a big flower garden around the house. He never stopped.”

The former Navy pilot and flight instructor and longtime Curry County farmer died Dec. 7.

Born Dec. 19, 1918, in Pleasant Hill, Allen always had a love of airplanes. His World War II squadron flew missions from Pearl Harbor and the Tarawa, Eniwetok, Tinian and Iwo Jima islands. He retired from the Navy in 1968, with a career that spanned Korean and Vietnam conflicts.

The flying experiences knocked out the hearing on the right ear — hearing protection wasn’t adequate during his service time, and Lamb said you could always tell former flyers by deafness. Pilots would be deaf in the right ear, copilots in the left.

On the lighter side, the experience placed Allen on countless fairways and greens.

“He had some old golf clubs in the 50s he gave to my son,” Lamb said. “Every time he would go to another country, he would take his golf clubs and put them in the back of his airplane. He might be there an extra day (and shoot a round). He said those golf clubs have been to more countries than most people.”

Son Robert Rogers said when his parents divorced, he lived with his father and Lamb lived with their mother. As a result, he moved much more often than other family members.

“I really didn’t want to go to Kodiak, Alaska,” the younger Rogers said with a laugh about his father’s final assignment, “but he kind of insisted, and I didn’t have another choice.”

The son ended up staying in Alaska for the next eight years, while the father returned to the family farm at Pleasant Hill, where he raised crops and Appaloosa horses.

Their father never missed a day of work, and he never missed birthdays or errands due to meticulous note-taking.

“He always had a notepad in his breast pocket with a pen,” Lamb said. “He made notes of everything. When we went through all of this stuff, we found this pile of two dozen notepads.”

The notes were often small and in checklist form, but it made sure things got done, Robert Rogers said.

“That was a good habit to have,” said the younger Rogers, who said he inherited honesty and a good work ethic. “I always carry a legal yellow pad with me in my briefcase.”

In Tribute is a regular feature. To suggest an honoree, contact CNJ Managing Editor Rick White at 763-6991 or by e-mail:
rwhite@cnjonline.com