Our kind and gentle neighbor, Sam Rogers passed away peacefully the morning of January 2 after a brief bout with a very rare auto-immune disease.
Sam was born on June 14, 1951 in Ann Arbor, Michigan to Rodney Rogers and Mary Read Rogers. When he was a baby his family moved to Vicksburg, Michigan where his dad became a partner in a family medical practice. Sam spent his childhood in Vicksburg with his parents and two sisters. After his senior year of high school, he traveled on his own throughout Europe, subsisting on a shoestring budget, and he remembered spending many a night sleeping on the roof of a building.
His grandfather, Thomas Read, was the lieutenant governor and district attorney for the state of Michigan. It only seems natural that he would enter the law profession. After taking the University of Michigan law school entrance exam and passing with flying colors, he decided he didn’t really want to practice law. He did enjoy learning. He acquired degrees in history, math, a secondary teaching certificate, and computer science. He went to welding school and used his newly found skills to teach welding at a vocational school while he obtained his MBA in Finance.
Sam had inherited a love of travel from his parents, so after graduating from the University of Michigan in 1973 he spent a year touring the USA frugally spending his hard-earned savings and sleeping in his car. It was during a trip to New Mexico he fell in love with the southwest and its spectacular views and decided to settle in Albuquerque
He spent his professional career in the defense aerospace industry in project management and project controls. He worked for Honeywell, Sandia National Laboratories, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. Both he and his wife June retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory in July 2018. Sam and June had built their home in Colorado in 2011 and were part-time residents until in July 2018 when they moved here full time.
Sam met his future wife, June while they both were working at Honeywell. June described him as very happy, jovial guy with a dry wit who was never seen without a smile. June remembers the first conversation she with him was after a Honeywell wallyball tournament. While sitting around with other players, sharing beers and conversation, she asks if he was going to attend a party for an engineer who was leaving Honeywell. He said he didn’t know the guy and that was when she told him she would do him a favor and let him take her to the party. He laughed and said he thought he’d like that. At that party they would spend almost eight hours talking and never looked back. They dated four years before he proposed during a hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The best friends were married 31 years at the time of Sam’s death.
June says that Sam made her laugh every single day. He was a practical joker and she never knew what to expect. Once he asked her to get down on her hands and knees under the pretext of helping him find something on the floor. Suddenly he jumped on her and proceeded to put peanut butter on her ears, which their dog licked out with vigor. One morning after June had been reading the book Men Are from Mars; Women Are from Venus, she found him at the kitchen table wearing a tin foil hat with bobbing antennae.
The couple loved to travel. Sam enjoyed taking June to all the places he loved on his post-college trip that he couldn’t afford to visit at the time. Their travels included trips to Mexico, Canada and half of the continental United States. They were avid fitness buffs who loved to hike, backpack, camp, and run.
Sam loved people and made everyone feel special. He was a strong supporter of others and believed people could achieve anything they set their mind to. He served as constant cheerleader to many a friend or co-worker. While he was great at remembering names, but he preferred to call friends – especially women - by a silly nickname he conceived. He saw no reason to hold grudges or be angry about things.
He had never been a churchgoer, but around the time he retired, he began to want more than a self-sufficient life. With June, he found a good church and his changed for the better. Friends and family members noticed a difference in him. To Sam’s regret, he was too sick to be baptized as planned on Christmas Eve, but now his sadness is washed away in the joy of eternal life with his Savior.
Sam loved well and he was so greatly loved. He will be greatly missed.
Sam is survived by his wife June, daughter-in-law Liza Grazier, and grandson Eli and granddaughter Ali of Tampa FL. His sisters Kathy (Mike) Deering of Ann Arbor, and their children Liz, Jim, Laura, and Christi and his sister Beth Tiller of Farmington, MN.
A memorial celebrating Sam’s life will be held at their home in Colorado on June 14,2020.
Online condolences may be made at www.lewisandglenn.com
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