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Obituary: Rogers Johnson '47

Shrewsbury, MA - Rogers Samuel Pyke Johnson, Ph.D., of the Southgate Community in Shrewsbury, a former longtime Holden resident, died peacefully at home with his family on Tuesday, January 17, 2012 after a short illness. He was 88.

Born on March 18, 1923 in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan he was a son of the late Percy Samuel and Dorothy Lee (Marquis) Johnson. Raised in the Ferndale section of Detroit he graduated from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He then joined the US Navy and attended the U.S. Naval Academy.

As a Naval Operator Officer he served aboard the USS Catoctin (AGC-5). During World War II, the USS Catoctin was assigned to both the Europe-Africa-Middle East and the Asiatic-Pacific Theaters and participated in the Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign. Following World War II USS Catoctin was assigned to Occupation and China service in the Far East. It was a prestigious ship known to its members as 'the Admiral's Ship.'

Following the war he moved to Washington DC where he worked in the department of Urban Planning Housing. A move to Manhattan to study at Columbia University provided him the opportunity to meet the love of his life Patricia Sweeney, a writer and reporter for Time Life Magazine. A courtship followed and the couple later married at Roger's grandfather's church, Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. His grandfather was the late Reverend Samuel S. Marquis, an Episcopalian minister who was also the head of the sociology department at Ford Motor Company.

Rog and Pat returned to live in Manhattan and with the roll of dice Rogers moved to Springfield, MA to take a job with The American Red Cross United Federal Disaster Team. During his time with the Red Cross he aided in two major disasters and it was the beginning of a deeper yearning to aid those less fortunate, become a voice for the underdog and study more into the science of people. His Master's from Columbia motivated him to achieve his Ph.D. from Brandeis University in Waltham. While at Brandeis he taught classes and then later assumed a position as professor at The College of the Holy Cross.

For over 25 years he worked at Holy Cross and became the chairman of its Sociology Department. Having achieved Professor Emeritus he was highly regarded in his department and at 'The Cross' where a reading room was named in his honor.

Rogers was active in the A.A.U.P (American Assoc. of University Professors) and was on the governance committee. Rogers was afforded many opportunities in life but gave back to society two-fold. He loved music, from Classical to Big Band jazz to more modern groups like Pink Floyd, the Eagles and Neil Young. Always with book in hand and the New York Times beside him, a natural curiosity about people and events fueled his passion for information. He played golf, excelled in baseball as a young man and remained a diehard Tigers and Lions fan even though he was an adopted New Englander. His family travelled and they saw much of what this country has to offer.

He was also a huge supporter of the arts and made sure that his daughters were exposed to all manner of plays, musicals, symphonies and the ballet. He summered on the lake in Muskoka, Canada from childhood to college years and his times there held a special memory in his heart. His wife Patricia, was active in politics and community in the Town of Holden and wherever Pat was Rogers was not far behind. Her illness with Parkinsons transitioned them to a move to Southgate in Shrewsbury in 2002. Her death in October 2005 saddened Roger immensely but he stayed active in the Southgate community where he was a member of the Resident's Council.

His family would like to extend a word of thanks to the wonderful and caring staff at Hampton Suites at Southgate, The Southgate Staff and Community, Dr. Stephen Smith and Dr. Eddison Ramsaran for their kind, gentle and compassionate care. He is predeceased by his wife, Patricia and only brother, Mark Johnson. Rogers leaves his daughters, Anne E. Dodson and her husband, R. Craig, of Shrewsbury and Sarah K. Connor of Hadley; his son-in-law, Steven J. Connor of Northampton; grandchildren, Benjamin S. Johnson, Samuel Rogers Dodson, Trevor Raymond Dodson, Tara Caradalico, Matthew Cronin and Shaun Connor, and his dear cousin, Nita Reignier and her husband, Jerome, of Cambridge and his beloved cat, "Buddy."

Family and friends will honor and remember Rogers' life by gathering for calling hours in Heald Chiampa Funeral Directors ~ The Sumner House, 5 Church Road, On the Common, Shrewsbury Center, on Saturday from 4 -7PM and again on Sunday at Southgate, 30 Julio Drive, Shrewsbury, where his funeral service will be celebrated at 1:00PM. Rev. Cynthia Frado of the Unitarian Universalist Congregational Society of Westborough will officiate. Military honors will conclude the service. Honor Rogers' memory with a contribution to Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Ave, Montgomery, AL 36104 or Wachusett Greenways, P.O. Box 121 Holden, MA 01520.