John Rogers: pilot, angler, and philanthropist
February 11, 2002
John Rogers is president of the Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation of Modesto, California. In addition to providing funding for Rogers Hall, the foundation has established an endowed scholarship fund, endowed professorships in music and education, and a faculty-student science research program at Lewis & Clark.
How did the Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation come about?
In the early 1980s, the Carnation Company sold out to Nestlé. My mother’s share of the stock formed the financial basis of the Mary Stuart Rogers Foundation.
How did your mother, Mary Stuart Rogers, develop her deep interest in youth and education?
As a mother of four, my mother pounded home the importance of education. When she was financially able, the first thing she did was set up a scholarship program to help students who worked hard to help themselves. She also understood the importance of providing scholarships to minority students.
What compels you to give to Lewis & Clark?
In the beginning, I was carrying out my brother’s wishes. Jim graduated from Lewis & Clark in 1964, and the College was his passion. Mike Mooney was scheduled to meet with my brother on the day of his death. I followed up on his task and listened to President Mooney’s message. Later, after I had developed an association with Lewis & Clark, it was clear to me that the College was well organized and directed. I found it very easy to continue my brother’s support.
How would you describe your philanthropic philosophy?
You can’t take it with you. I am a custodian of the money God has given me. Simply put, it’s my responsibility to give back my talent, time, and treasures.
You served as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and now operate a charter service out of Modesto, California. What sparked your interest in flying?
When I was a kid, airplanes and trains held my interest. The minute I found I was physically fit to fly, flying was my goal. I’ve been at it for more than 40 years. I can’t imagine a day that I won’t be able to fly!
Do you have a favorite flight?
I have had lots of favorites, but the most recent was flying President Bush Sr. to Europe and meeting the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.
What values guide you in your daily life?
The Ten Commandments, for a start. My faith in God is the foundation of my values. Respect for life. A handshake is as good as a contract when dealing with people. It’s important to be on time. You have to have strong character and the strength of your convictions. Not the least: patriotism!
What hobbies and interests do you enjoy?
Fishing is by far the best. I also enjoy participating in Toastmasters and singing in the church choir. I like singing, period. Outdoor activities, in general, are my favorites.
What would you like to see as your legacy?
Projects or programs that underscore my values. I feel that good values are the rules we have to live by. The Bible spells them out very well: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and so forth. As a religious person, I believe applying strong values is a responsibility we all have.
What advice do you have for alumni?
If you believe in what your school has done for you, help it whenever you can. Students will benefit from what you give back. You, as a student, benefited from alumni who came before you. It is better to give than to receive.