CHIPLEY - "My town is just a little place; it's not too big at all, but it's filled with loving people, working hard and standing tall." Gerald Lee (Pee Wee) Rogers, the man who wrote those affectionate words about his beloved Chipley community, passed away March 10 and was laid to rest Monday.
The excerpt is from "My Town" - a poem Rogers' family says reflects his passion for Washington County and surrounding areas.
"He loved his community and lived to serve," said daughter Donna Miller. "When he saw a need, he tried to fill it. He took people by the hand when there was tragedy to help them through. If he knew he could help, he did."
Rogers was a noted business and civic leader, having founded Rogers Insurance Agency in Chipley in May 1974 following his retirement from the U.S. Air Force as a Senior Master Sergeant after 20 years of service.
He served terms as President of both the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and Chipley Kiwanis Club and held leadership positions at First Presbyterian Church of Chipley, including that of deacon, elder, and treasurer.
Many Washington County residents tuned in during the 70s and 80s to hear Rogers welcome them to his news program on the now shuttered WBGC radio station with his iconic greeting: "This is Gerald Pee Wee Rogers with the news and views of and around Washington County." Listeners likely remember as well Rogers' signature sign-off, specially enunciated in his unmistakable drawl: "Have a gooo-oood [pause] day!"
Chipley High School fans heard Rogers' voice echoing beneath the Friday night lights as he gave play-by-play announcements for Tiger football games.
But among for what Rogers will be remembered most, his family says it was his desire to provide guidance for local youth, often becoming a father to the fatherless.
"He was the life of the party. Anybody who knew him loved him, and he loved everyone," said Miller. "He was a great dad and grandfather, but he was also a surrogate father and grandfather to many, taking so many in who otherwise didn't have someone like him to look up to. We are all a little better off having known him."
Rogers is survived by his wife, Kathleen, with whom he would have celebrated his 65th wedding anniversary on April 13. He is also survived by his son, Michael Rogers (Kelley); daughters Debra Enfinger (William), Linda Dickinson (Doug), and Donna Miller (Ricky); and 8 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
At the family's request, those wishing to honor Rogers' memory may do so by making a contribution to the First Presbyterian Church or Covenant Care.