1 November 1907 - 1 December 1998
Education was always important to William Rodgers. So important, in fact, that he took an unusual path to join the ranks of academia.
After retiring from the U. S. Army at the age of 55, General Rodgers enrolled at the University of Arizona for a master’s in geography—he earned a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Washington prior to joining the Army. Soon after he received his post-graduate degree, General Rodgers accepted a teaching position in the University of Colorado-Denver’s Geography Department, a post he held until 1973 when he retired as Professor Emeritus in geography. He emerged from retirement, on occasion, however, to lecture in the department.
In honor of her late husband and his passion for geography, Mrs. Rodgers established the William M. Rogers Fund at CU-Denver. The fund supports scholarships for undergraduates studying geography, a subject for which Mrs. Rodgers shared her husband’s enthusiasm. “He thought geography had long been neglected,” she said. “It’s such an important subject and must amount to more than just learning the capitals. It involves studying the social, economic, historical, and political aspects of a region.”
Thanks to his service in the U. S. Army, General Rodgers learned geography firsthand. By the time he retired as a brigadier general, he had served in World War II and the Korean War, was a highly decorated officer, and had traveled extensively throughout the world, including nearly all of the Northern Hemisphere. All this travel enriched General Rodgers’ second career in education.
“He incorporated his life experiences from the military into his teachings at CU-Denver,” said Mrs. Rodgers of her husband who frequently brought clothing and other items from various parts of the world into his classes to help illustrate points. His students were so captivated by their professor that many of them continued their discussions and debates about geography in their free time. “He had a loyal following of students who met regularly after class in one of the coffeehouses. They called themselves Rodgers’ Rangers,” said Mrs. Rodgers.
Given General Rodgers’ distinguished careers in the military and the classroom, Mrs. Wendell Rodgers also established a designated scholarship with the MOAA Scholarship Fund in his name as a loving tribute to her husband of 67 years. “Education is one of the most important things to support,” she said, “and my husband truly enjoyed teaching.”