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K-State Today

April 26, 2012



The Ralph and Dora Rogers Memorial Scholarship

By Andrew Zender

Gary Rogers, pictured with his parents Ralph and Dora. Both Gary and his father earned degrees in chemical engineering from K-State.

To Ralph and Dora Rogers, Kansas State University meant the world. It played a large role in their education as well as their children's. Most importantly, it was in Manhattan, a place they called home for 63 years.

They had three children, Gary B. Rogers, Mary Rogers McLachlan and May Rogers Ball, all of whom attended K-State. Gary Rodgers graduated in 1956, McLachlan in 1958 and Ball in 1963. They were a close-knit family and loved being part of the Manhattan community.

Gary Roger's life and work took him across the world, from Kansas to California, across mountains in Europe, through Egyptian deserts and to the highest peaks in Asia. And after a life well-lived, packed with adventures over thousands of miles, he never forgot his roots or the people and places that made his experience possible — including K-State. He died in 2010.

With a charitable bequest, Gary Rogers established the Ralph and Dora Rogers Memorial Scholarship to honor his parents and create opportunities for future generations of students to attend K-State and pursue their dreams. his sisters recently shared thoughts on his legacy, his life and the way their family bleeds purple – and white.

*Talk about your family's history with K-State.

McLachlan: I remember playing on the K-State campus as a child. We'd climb, roll down hills — it was a great place for kids to be. When we were older, there was no question as to where we'd go when we went to school. All these years later, no matter where I am, I follow the Wildcats, and I'm proud to have a K-State banner hanging outside my door.

Ball: Out of the five people in our family, four of us are K-State graduates. Mom would have, but when she was in high school, her mother died, and being the eldest sibling, she ended up staying at home to help take care of her family. K-State has always been part of our lives and we're all proud to be K-State alumni today.

*What kind of person was Gary?

McLachlan: He was funny — always pulling jokes — and fun to be around. At Christmas, he'd put green coloring in the mashed potatoes and color the gravy red. He was very intelligent, was a great hiker and loved to travel. He trekked in the Himalayas up to the base camp of K-2.

But he was also a great older brother, and we had lots of fun together as kids. He loved being older and “two years smarter.” He'd come to the dinner table and say, “Well, Mary, can you…” and then he'd talk about something he learned at school. He just knew how to talk to everybody and knew a lot about everything, so he could always meet you at your level.

Ball: He was a magnificent brother and an outstanding guy. He had so many interests and a wide circle of friends, but he was always very interested in other people. He'd meet people and find out their middle name, where they came from and where they went to school. He'd ask questions about this and that — where you had been, where you had grown up, what your last trip was. And he'd remember all of it. He had the sharpest mind.

*Why was philanthropy important to him?

McLachlan: I think it tells you what kind of person he was. He had a full-ride scholarship to K-State and the College of Engineering provided him with an education. I think he just saw that he needed to help others to be able to do that same thing. He gave to a lot of different causes. When he saw something that was worth doing and supporting, that was where his money went.

Ball: As the counselor at Manhattan High School, our father spent a lot of time helping graduating seniors get scholarships to go to college. He knew how much it meant to students who deserved to go to college but didn't have financial help.  I believe Gary was very aware of that and thought that education was the key people needed to unlock the door to a good future. He wanted to give the same opportunities that he had to others.

*What does this mean to your family?

McLachlan: We are a very close family. I feel very fortunate that I had Gary as a brother and have May as a sister. It was National Siblings Day recently. May wrote me and said she couldn't imagine having a better brother and sister, and that our parents must have done something right. Mine and May's blood pumps purple and white, and Gary's did to the end.

Ball: Gary was just one in a million. I can't wait to see his name put up on the wall in Anderson Hall at the Celebration of Giving on May 19. We wouldn't miss it for the world. And we really had a wonderful evening with the Seaton Society in the College of Engineering this spring. We very much appreciate everything that K-State does.