Jim was born in Stamford, Connecticut to James Thomas Rogers and Miriam Pomeroy Rogers on November 20, 1927. He was their only child and was adored by them both. As a young child, he moved with his parents to Texas, where his father founded a miniature, duck pin bowling alley, followed by a tract of homes in Ft. Worth. When a freak hail storm blew all the roofs off of the homes before any of them had been sold, his father had to declare bankruptcy and move the family to Chicago where they lived briefly with his father’s sister, Lillian, her husband, Jack Agar, their daughter, Joyce, and their son, Jack. Jim’s father began work at the Agar Meat Packing Company. After several years the family moved suddenly to Southern California in order to save the health of both Jim and his father, who had both contracted Rheumatic Fever.
In California, they settled in Sun Valley, where his father set up a fruit stand near a local park, then advanced to a partnership in a hardware store in Tujunga, where the family then moved. It was here that Jim’s father suffered his first, devastating, stroke that paralyzed the left side of his body. After a year of hospitalization at the Veterans Hospital in Santa Monica, the family left California to be near his mother’s family in Connecticut. They traveled across country in a new ’37 Dodge. His father died from another stroke seven years after his first one. Jim was 16 years old.
Jim and his mother moved back to Southern California where she, with her Bachelor’s degree from Connecticut Women’s College, was able to contribute to, and eventually support, the family. She wrote regular articles for the Fuller Brush Newsletter, the Bristler. She also contributed articles and interviews with Hollywood celebrities, to several popular movie magazines. Due to her work, she enjoyed complimentary tickets to the Academy Awards every year.
Jim was a true intellectual. He was notoriously well-read and could quote poetry and prose appropriately in almost any situation–including poems by his mother, Miriam, who was a beautiful poet. He graduated from Williston Academy in Easthampton, Massachusetts in 1945. He studied music as an undergrad at Yale, where he also explored other interests, from ethnomusicology and singing to languages and physics. He graduated in 1949. His first job after moving back to Southern California was at Eastman Kodak, then as an optical engineer at Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation (1950-1956). He eventually became a Human Factors Engineer at Hughes Aircraft, first in Culver City, then in Fullerton, California, which led him to work on top-secret projects that the family still doesn’t know much about. During this period he went back to graduate school at UCLA, earning his Masters in Engineering in 1962 and another Masters in Psychology in 1970. He received his Doctorate in Psychology from UCLA in 1973, eventually becoming a psychology professor at San Bernardino State University. His granddaughter Katherine writes, “Much of my earliest interest in psychology came from Gramps, inspired by his stories of the Stanley Milgram shock experiments and by my own perusal of the (now outdated) psychoanalytic theory books at my grandparents’ house in Crestline, California. Every Christmas, when Nana and Gramps came to visit, I enjoyed telling Gramps about whatever I was learning in school at the time. He was enthusiastic and seemed to legitimately enjoy these things as much as I did.”
Jim was a lifelong musician. He performed regularly as a tenor soloist in community productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, Bach Oratorios, Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors, and annually at performances of Handel’s Messiah. He was the Choir Director for 35 years at St Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fullerton, California. He composed anthems, descants, antiphons, and responses, many of which were published.
Jim’s family life was interconnected with his music skills. He met his wife, Nancy Odelle Bejach Rogers, in the choir at All Saints Episcopal Church in Beverly Hills. They married on May 18, 1951, and celebrated their first anniversary at the Good Samaritan Hospital in downtown Los Angeles, where their daughter, Deborah Anne was born. Four years later came Rebecca Katherine and the family was complete. The family has many fond memories of singing rounds and four-part harmony on their way to camping in Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. All of “Jim’s Girls” also sang in his choirs. Nancy and Jim celebrated 65 years of marriage this last May.
Jim leaves behind his wife, Nancy Rogers, in Crestline, California; his daughter, the Rev. Deborah Magdalene, in Wappingers Falls, New York; his daughter, Dr. Rebecca Lyman, in Rexburg, Idaho; eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, with one on the way.