Obituary: Samuel Rogers

Posted at 10:40 AM, Jul 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-15 12:40:10-04

Samuel Rogers passed away on June 16, 2021, due to old age and heart issues, despite the heroic efforts of the staff at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital.

Sam was born in Florence, Arizona on November 5, 1934, to David Rogers and Rowena Beach. His father was employed with the Agricultural Extension Service that served the Navajo Nation by giving crop advice. David Rogers’ administrative skills led him to establish the first agricultural mission in 1944 between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which included several meetings with Ibn Saud, the original King of Saudi Arabia.

The Rogers family moved to Bard, California, just across the Colorado River from Yuma, Arizona. Sam planted acres of Medjool date palms on the family farm which have continuously produced dates since the 1950s. Sam attended and graduated from University of California, Davis, with a veterinarian degree. While attending the university one of his fondest memories was joining the university’s fire department.

Since Sam really did not want to become a veterinarian, and education was free in the 50s in California if you were a resident; he then decided to get his PhD in Biochemistry at Berkeley, California. He enjoyed school and met his lifelong friends at these universities. As a diversion to his studies, he and a small group of friends fought to prevent the building of a nuclear power plant at Bodega Bay, California. Sam’s contribution was to examine the U.S.G.S earthquake fault maps, which showed a fault line underneath the future plant. Suffice it to say, no nuclear plant was built, but Sam believed that nuclear power had a role in the U.S.

While in Berkeley, Sam met Carolyn Volz while ushering at the San Francisco Opera. They were married in August 1961 and had a son, John, in 1963. Sam completed his post-doc., at the University of Oregon in Eugene where Deborah, his daughter, was born in 1965.

Thanks to the efforts of Gordan Julian, Sam and family arrived at MSU’s faculty ghetto in the summer of 1966. A Toyota Landcruiser was purchased, and the Rogers family went on every back road in southwest Montana. Sam was also a practitioner of fly-fishing before it was a thing. One of his joys was to take people to his favorite fishing holes.

Sam was a professor of biochemistry for over thirty years and took great delight in teaching introduction to graduate-level courses. He viewed his graduate students and his lab staff as a second family. Sam taught the entire spectrum of chemistry and biochemistry courses during his teaching career. He also was one of the founders of the WWAMI medical educational program for Montana State University in the 1970s. His research was influenced by a year at Yale University studying mutagenesis, which he took back to Montana State University to continue to study.

Sam and Carolyn have lived on Manley Road by the East Gallatin River since 1972. A double-wide trailer became a house, with a separate garage and a loft added later. The trees planted by Sam and Carolyn 50 years ago now tower over the property. Sam eventually retired in the 90s but took a while to adjust. Thanks to his newfound friends in AA, Sam was sober for the last 20+ years of his life, encouraging new people to the program.

Sam and Carolyn enjoyed art history and traveled to Europe several times, with Italy being their favorite destination. Sam was passionate about politics and was a loyal Democrat through the years, and wasn’t bashful to share his view with his Republican friends.

In his retirement, he enjoyed traveling with Carolyn, seeing his children and grandchildren. His great pleasure was reading which made him popular at the Country Bookshelf. In his own quiet way, Sam Rogers passed on his love to his family, friends, students, and community at large. People remember his laugh and easy-going spirit. He will be missed. He is survived by a son, John Rogers; a daughter, Deborah Newville and her husband, Tony Newville; and granddaughters, Taylor Newville and Dyllan Newville.

In lieu of flowers, Sam would want you to donate to any left-leaning organization of your choosing. It is for certain that Sam gave to them all.

A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 P.M. on Sunday, August 8 at Pilgrim Congregational Church.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. []