Veteran, Life Long Islander, Ice Cream Man
George Rogers died peacefully at his home in Vineyard Haven on Nov. 6, for which the family is grateful for the compassionate support by VNA of Cape Cod Hospice. He was born in Vineyard Haven at his family home on Feb. 4, 1922, the son of Frank Rogers and Maria de Canha who both emigrated from Madeira, Portugal by way of Ellis Island in 1911.
A lifelong islander, he graduated from the Tisbury High School (now known as the Tisbury Elementary School) in 1942 and immediately enlisted in the Navy to defend our nation in World War II. As seaman second class, he was commissioned as a gunner in the gunnery division on board the Battleship USS Baltimore that participated in numerous bombardments of the Japanese shoreline to support the successful landing and occupation of US troops from 1943 to 1944. The USS Baltimore was one of the key strategic participants in the air raid bombings on the Japanese island of IWO JIMA.
A favorite story that George often told about his service during WW II in the Pacific, was the time he was asked by his commander to guard and protect President Roosevelt’s dog, named Fala, a Scottish Terrier that always traveled with the President, while the President was having a top secret meeting in Pearl Harbor aboard the USS Baltimore with his general and admiral.
Upon completing his tour of duty in the Navy in 1945, he returned to his beloved island of Martha’s Vineyard and worked for a local contractor as a carpenter. Shortly thereafter he met and married Florine Santos in 1950, who was born and raised in West Tisbury by parents who also emigrated from Portugal in the early 1900s. George and Florine Rogers celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary on Sept. 25.
With the birth of his four children in the early 1950s, George’s love for the seas lead him to accept a job with the MV Steamship Authority. He eventually rose to the position of Quarter Master, having the responsibility to operate the helm of these large boat ferry ships from port to port. Upon his retirement from the Steamship Authority in the late 1970s, he was anxious to start his own business and ultimately purchased an old Hood milk truck and with town permits in hand sold ice cream at Katama Beach and along State Beach for nearly 20 years. During that time, he took great pleasure in meeting people from around the world but his greatest joy was bringing a smile to the faces of the endless lines of children who purchased ice cream from his truck stand on State Beach.
George was an avid fisherman who also participated in the original MV Bass and Blue Derby that started in 1946 and continued to fish the shoreline and waterways of Martha’s Vineyard right up to the age of 90.
He was a devoted husband and father who had a great love for the land and waters of Martha’s Vineyard. There was no other place he wanted to be than on this island to pursue his passion for boating, fishing, hunting and shellfishing. Nothing gave him more peace of mind than sitting with a fishing pole in hand on a long sandy beach or fishing from his boat at sunset along the north shore without a ripple in the water.
He had an exceptional love for vegetable gardening and a tireless commitment to pass on to future generations his family’s tradition for raising large vegetables gardens as well as cultivating lots of delicious raspberries.
George is survived by his wife of 69 years, Florine Rogers and by his four children Marie Baldwin of West Tisbury, Linda Rogers of Boston, MA, George Rogers Jr. of Vineyard Haven and Dennis Rogers of Edgartown. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his 10 brothers and sisters, Mary Pombo of Acushnet, MA; Manuel Rogers of San Gabriel , CA; Lydia Silva of New Haven , CT; Frank Rogers of Edgartown; Olga Panagakos of Acushnet, MA; Alice Duncan of Walnut Creek, CA; William Rogers of Oak Bluffs; Gloria Cory of Dartmouth, MA; John Rogers of Vineyard Haven; and Eleanor Luce of West Tisbury.
Visiting hours will be held on Saturday, Nov. 9 from 12:00 noon to 1:00 PM at the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs. A celebration of life service will be held at St. Augustine‘s Church in Vineyard Haven on Nov. 9 at 1:30 PM. Immediately following the church services, an interment will take place at the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven and the officiating the service is Father Michael Nagle and military honors provided by the Veterans of Martha’s Vineyard. After the interment, we welcome friends and family to join the family for sandwiches and refreshments at the basement of St. Augustine Church in Vineyard Haven.
Donations may be made in his memory to Visiting Nurse Assoc. of Cape Cod, 255 Independence Drive, Hyannis, MA 02601 or to the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby, P.O. Box 2101, Edgartown, MA 02539.