John Edward Rogers of Friday Harbor, Washington passed away on Sunday, May 27, at 2 p.m. in Bellingham, Washington, from complications arising from surgery. He was 74 years old.
Born Sept. 26, 1943 in Butte, Montana, to George A. (“Dolly”) Rogers and Ann E. (Sullivan) Rogers, John grew up in Centerville with his brother, George, surrounded by a large extended family on “The Richest Hill on Earth.” He attended St. Lawrence’s School, Butte Central High School and Western Montana College, where he received his teaching degree. John married Aleda Ritz in Butte, where they had children Julie and John before moving to Lincoln City, Oregon, where Michael was welcomed into the family.
John taught junior math for a few years, became school principal and then a district administrator for the rest of his career. He was superintendent of schools for several districts, including Lincoln County, Hillsboro and Mollala River. John was an active and engaged member of all those communities, and he made positive and lasting contributions to the lives of the students and their schools. He seemed to know everyone, and he had an uncanny knack for recognizing and remembering former students that he would unexpectedly encounter even 30 or 40 years later.
It was in Hillsboro that John met Pamela (Gregory) Rice, a native of Friday Harbor, Washington. They were married in July 1989 at the lovely Church in the Valley, attended by her children, Emily and Christa, and his children, Julie and John. After years of teaching in Oregon, John and Pam retired back to “her” island where John began building houses and Pam went back to work teaching Spanish in the local Friday Harbor High School. They became a part of the community, enjoying the many friends they met at the San Juan Golf Course and in their many journeys to Europe including the pilgrimage across the top of Spain to the Cathedral of St. James in Santiago, Spain, called the “Camino de Santiago.”
Papa John, as he was known to his five beloved grandchildren, was an inveterate teaser, expert practical joker and great storyteller. His devilish sense of humor was one of his defining characteristics, and many young family members (you know who you are!) were convinced by his tall tale that he milked the local deer and churned it into “Deer Butter,” which you could tell from “regular” butter because it was green.
John’s other defining characteristic was his big heart. He loved his family above all else and the best times for him were those occasions that brought us all together.
He was preceded in death by his parents, George and Ann Rogers, mother-in-law, Celia Gregory, and cherished son, Michael Joseph.
John will be mourned and lovingly remembered by his wife and constant partner, Pam; his children, Julie (and David) Sheehy of Redmond, Washington, John (and Natalie) Rogers of Everett, Washington, Emily Rice of Edmonds, Washington, Christa (and Greg) Nieminen of Bothell, Washington; and grandchildren Megan (and Miles) Southwick, Molly McPherson, Niamh Sheehy, Antonio Rice and Anders Nieminen. He will also be painfully missed and always remembered by his brother George (and Loretta) Rogers of Dallas, Oregon, and his cousin James Pogie (and Gloria) Rogers of Butte, Montana.
Cremation has taken place and the family is planning a memorial celebration of his life at 11 a.m., June 30, at the Friday Harbor Presbyterian Church.