The late George Rogers was a humble, generous man and our community would be much poorer were it not for his presence.
I say those things about George after having known him for a half-century. He left us last November at the age of 85. Many knew him as a reporter – that’s what he told people he did.
His style of journalism was simple and straight-forward. His work was easy to read because George had the wonderful ability to explain complex matters in simple terms. That was an extraordinary gift.
But George also was a teacher. He dedicated most of his adult years to keeping our community informed. I learned much working across the table from him as we covered government meetings together – George for the newspaper, and me for radio. He was one of my mentors.
But there was another significant attribute of George – the side that cared for preserving our land and water. George was a conservationist, writing extensively about our physical world. In his later years, he received accolades from organizations dedicated to the principles that he espoused.
George wasn’t comfortable being in the spotlight – he always sought to avoid it. Together, George and Jeanette Rogers followed the biblical admonition that when giving alms (in the Rogers’ case, contributions): do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Their charitable works occurred out of sight and many of his friends didn’t know the extent of George’s good works.
Last Friday, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) held a ceremony that officially accepted 39 acres of forest land from the Rogers’ estate. The acreage, southwest of the corner of Torun and Jordan Roads, will serve as an outdoor classroom for future generations of natural resources students as they learn about forestry.
The Rogers’ donation of such a fine plot is noteworthy because it’s only about 15 minutes from the UWSP campus, giving the College of Natural Resources (CNR) easy and quick access to the forest.
George and Jeanette’s two children – Jim and Jane – attended the ceremonies dedicating the land as the George Rogers Living Forest. The university has erected a sign at the corner identifying the property as such.
At the dedication, UWSP Natural Resources Dean Christine Thomas read a few passages from George’s book, “Among the Leaves.”
She noted that George wrapped up his collection of outdoor essays with this wisdom: “Our planet is just a speck of dust in the cosmos, but it’s our speck, the only one we have, and we should be taking care of it.”