Born March 5, 1921, to Ethel Loughridge Rogers and Samuel Clayton Rogers, Mr. Rogers lived most of his life in Murray County, Ga. After his father died in 1923, in a sawmill accident, his mother raised him and his sister, first in a one-room house near Dalton, Ga., and then in Eton, Ga., where he graduated from elementary school.
After graduating from Murray County High School in 1938, he worked at Speed Oil Company in Chatsworth, Ga., until he was drafted into military service in 1942.
A member of the Greatest Generation, he served his country as a radio operator in the Army Air Force, which was the military aviation arm of the United States during and immediately after World War II. After attending radio school in Sioux City, S.D., and gunnery school in Yuma, Ariz., he was deployed to Great Britain as a member of the 397th Bomb Squadron of the 8th U.S. Air Force based near Bedford, England. At a time when twenty-five missions was the norm, he flew more than forty missions over German-occupied land and had the distinction of flying one mission on the famed Memphis Belle. The Memphis Belle, the subject of a 1990 movie, was a B-17F Flying Fortress already famous because she was the first heavy bomber in the European war theater to complete twenty-five combat missions and keep her crew alive. Mr. Rogers’ newer model B-17G was parked beside the semi-retired Memphis Belle, and one day when there were mechanical problems with his plane, headquarters tossed his crew the keys to the Memphis Belle.
After World War II, Mr. Rogers returned to Murray County, met and married the love of his life, Mary Elizabeth Evans, and raised two sons while working as owner of S. D. Rogers Gulf Oil in Chatsworth. His lifelong hobby of gardening provided him with much pleasure and his neighbors and friends with much produce.
His life was one of quiet dignity and selflessness, truly a long obedience in the same direction. He served as deacon at First Baptist Church of Chatsworth and sang in the seniors’ choir in later years. He loved the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength as closely as possible this side of heaven.
He discovered a new calling, that of grandfather or “Pops,” when his first grandchild was born on his birthday in 1983. His grandchildren will remember playing in Pops’ barn, driving the lawn mower around his garden, and annual trips to Sea Island in the Chevy van, but most of all they will remember his fun-loving nature and stalwart faith. As icing on the cake, he was blessed to live to see two precious great-grandchildren.
He loved and was loved by his adopted family at Cottage Landing in Carrollton where he moved in 2006 to be closer to his family.
He was preceded in death by his wife of sixty years in June 2006; a son, Samuel Dewitt Rogers, Jr. in January 1993; and sisters Mary Magdalene Rogers in September 1918, and Ruth Rogers Williams in September 1995.
He is survived by one son, Dr. William Evan Rogers, Sr. and wife Rhonda of Carrollton; four grandchildren, William Evan Rogers, Jr. and wife Caitlin of Duluth, GA, Karis Elizabeth Rogers of Carrollton, Anna Regina Rogers of Atlanta, and Caroline Grace Rogers of Carrollton; and great-grandchildren, MaryPayton Rogers and William Evan Rogers III of Duluth.
Services will be Wednesday, February 17, 2010, at 1 p.m. in the chapel of Peeples Funeral Home, 208 South Third Avenue, Chatsworth, Ga., with visitation from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. prior to the funeral. Dr. Alan Price of Knoxville, Tenn., and Dr. Estill Jones of Chatsworth, Ga., will officiate.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Chatsworth First Baptist Church, 121 West Market Street, Chatsworth, Ga. 30705-2998.
Peeples Funeral Home, Chatsworth.