My name is Benjamin Rogers. My family and I are collecting money for a memorial donation to the Tucson Botanical Gardens in honor of our father Dr. Don K. Rogers. He himself was an adept gardener and loved the Tucson Botanical Gardens. Help us support a wonderful cause while honoring a wonderful man.
Sierra Vista, AZ – Dr. Don K. Rogers passed away peacefully on December 5th, 2021 in a Tucson family home. He was surrounded by twinkling Christmas lights, songs of the season, and the loving warmth of his family – his favorite people.
Born August 14th, 1940 in Kansas City, MO, Don was the only child of a WWII Army Air Corps pilot. Though his early years saw his family move from one Army installation to another, Don’s more formative youth was happily spent living with the antics of his mirror-fearing parakeet, Sparky, and just down the road from his adored grandmother. Together, Nina and Don shared their afternoons on her front porch, and she taught him how to make plum jam in her kitchen.
Don’s first job was installing spark plugs in lawn mowers for Sears, Roebuck and Co., later joining his father at Ford Motor Company’s Claycomo assembly plant, where he worked on the assembly line affixing truck beds to their chassis. During his time there, Don developed a novel process for attaching the truck beds that earned him a scholarship from Ford to attend any college or university he chose and was admitted. Though already receiving an academic scholarship to Yale, Don chose to accept Ford’s offer and attended William Jewel College in Liberty, MO, closer to his family.
After undergraduate school, Don attended the University of Kansas Medical School, where in his final year he made the decision to change career paths to dentistry. Once he had completed dental school at the University of Missouri, Don commissioned as an officer into the United States Army. Following him from Missouri to Fort Benning, GA to begin his dental residency was his favorite pet, Poncho, a fiercely loyal German Shepherd, and as Dad described him, a real Rin Tin Tin. It was at Fort Benning, from Don’s base trailer, that they sat and watched the Apollo 11 moon landing.
His first duty station was in West Berlin, Germany; as an Army dentist, he supported both military and good will missions. While in Europe, Don enjoyed travelling as much as he could. The awe of driving through the Swiss Alps, the marvel of the Roman ruins, the rich history and magnificent landscapes had him drawing lines across the continent and left him with stories that would always brighten his eyes and place a big smile on his face to tell. Another of Don’s pastimes when in Berlin was the smuggling of chocolate and coffee, under a false floor in his VW Beetle, to families in East Berlin.
Don’s professional successes in Berlin impressed his commander and in return he was given first choice of his next duty station, and in 1975 he chose Fort Huachuca, AZ. It was there that he met his future wife, Cherre and her two daughters, Elizabeth and Amelia. In 1977, shortly after their marriage, Don and Cherre opened Rogers Family Dental in Sierra Vista. Practicing dentistry both at the Fort Huachuca Dental Command and in his private practice until the 1990s, and only retiring from a full-time private practice earlier in 2021, Don was a fixture in the community and committed to his patients. As he grew his practice, he also grew his family welcoming four more children (Katie, Sarah, Josh, and Ben.) After his retirement from the Army, he was called upon during times of conflict to assist in preparing service members for deployment – the response was always to expand his operations and take the overflow of patients from Fort Huachuca. He was a proud Veteran and always committed to the care and honor of those who served. He was a talented man who was passionate about the science and art of dentistry, cared deeply for his patients, and was always enthusiastic when he could creatively help someone in need.
Ever creative, artistic, and curious, Don was a multifaceted man. His love for music began at an early age while in a barbershop quartet. He later taught himself to play the banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and guitar. He often played in Veteran’s Memorial Park or at after church ice cream socials on Fort Huachuca with his dear friend Dr. James Granata. He continued singing alongside his daughter Amelia in the Meistersingers musical group. He enjoyed photography, drawing, painting, sculpting, and jewelry making. He was an avid reader and liked military history. He loved nature, often taking his family on hikes and picnics. He loved exploring the beauty of the natural world, traveling as much as he could to see all that it offered.
He was a proud Veteran and dentist, but an even prouder father. It would be a challenge to think of a single swim meet, soccer match, Tang Soo Do lesson, concert, performance, recital, rehearsal, commissioning, middle school, high school, or college graduation that he missed. He endured his son’s trombone. He taught us the value of hard work, striving to learn to do it better, knowing when to rest, and instilled the belief in giving back. His lessons are the reason why we pull over to ask the person walking in the rain if they need a ride or ask the old lady exiting the grocery if we can help her to load her car. Don was someone who had a knack for making people feel seen and understood whether through grand gestures or sometimes in the most subtle, yet generous acts of kindness. He loved to bring others comfort through his humor, compassion, and thoughtfulness.
Our family has been inundated with stories from others about who he was to them, how cherished he was, and how much he will be missed. This is a testament to the true and loving nature of this wonderful man who we call Don, Doctor, Dah, Papa!
Don is survived by his wife of 45 years Cherre L. Rogers, his seven children (Elizabeth Wilson, Amelia Leavenworth, and Joshua Rogers (Molly) of Phoenix AZ, Christopher Rogers of Minnesota, Katherine Johnson (Devin) of Las Vegas Nevada, Sarah Rogers and Benjamin Rogers (Cambel Berk) of Tucson AZ) and his seven grandchildren (Maddie and Josie Ballalatak, Ella and Brenna Freund, and Everett, Natalie and Jack Rogers.)
Don is proceeded in death by his mother, Ruth Elizabeth Gates, and his father, Lawrence “Buck” Rogers.
The life of Dr. Don K Rogers (Lieutenant Colonel) will be celebrated on January 20th, 2022 with internment at Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery at 11:00am followed by a celebration of life at the Outside Inn from 2-4:30pm. In lieu of flowers please participate with us in creating a memorial in his honor by donating to our GoFundMe. All funds will go to the Tucson Botanical Gardens, a place which was special to his heart.