Junior Sean Meehan gave the retired farmer his prized O-ring, which he had planned to keep as a memento, to thank him for his unexpected donation of $25,000 to help the band buy new uniforms.
On Monday Rogers got to see a photo of the prototype of the new uniforms he helped finance.
“Hey, that’s going to look sharp,” he said.
In February at a packed meeting band members and their parents made an emotional plea to the Northwest Allen County Schools Board for $25,000 to replace the eight-year-old uniforms they said were permanently stained, smelled and were falling apart.
New uniforms would cost about $55,000 but the band booster organization raised $30,000 through fundraisers and sponsorships to cover the rest.
But like every other public school district in the state, NACS is facing deep budget cuts and potential layoffs that would likely jeopardize the band boosters’ funding request.
Rogers, 96, read about the group’s appeal in the newspaper and decided since he had a little bit of money coming his way he would rather give it to the band for uniforms than be taxed on it.
He made the donation in memory of his wife, Daphne, who taught second grade at Huntertown School for 18 years. She retired in 1979 and passed away in 1990.
Gene Wort, principal at the time, described her as one of the best teachers he had worked with and said she was well-respected.
Mike Meehan, who is co-president of the band boosters along with his wife Mary, said it took only about 40 minutes from the time he heard about Rogers’ offer to the time he picked up the check at his house.
“What he has done for us can only be described as a gift from God,” Meehan said.
News of the donation left some band parents in tears.
Meehan said since band programs across the state are all hurting financially, word of “The Check” – as it’s known in band circles – has already spread as far as Indianapolis.
Meehan said Rogers’ donation will impact middle school and elementary school students in the school district who will eventually be part of the Charger Pride.
He said he wants to make sure band members are aware of Rogers’ generosity for years to come and said the current band plans to honor him in some way.
Band director Dick Karkosky said they owe a big debt of gratitude to Rogers for helping the band out at a time when schools are being financially-challenged.
“We are so fortunate to have someone who is willing to step up and give us a donation like this,” he said.
This is not Rogers’ first contribution to the NACS district.
In 1995 he donated 16 acres at the corner of Bethel and Hathaway Roads for the George & Daphne Rogers Environmental Center. The wooded area is used for various educational purposes.
The couple moved to Huntertown in 1946.
For decades Rogers operated his farm on Hathaway Road. During that time he grew sod and produced carrots for the Campbell Soup Company and broccoli for Birds Eye Foods.
Rogers still lives on Hathaway and is able to hear the Charger Pride practicing from his house.
He has his own band experience. Rogers played the saxophone in the band of his Illinois high school that had 48 students.