The death of Bob Rogers leaves a huge hole in Denton that longtime friend Peggy Capps said will never be filled.
“He gave the whole world pleasure for 91 and a half years and we should be grateful to have had him that long,” she said. “We were not ready to give him up.”
Rogers, known as Denton’s “Piano Man,” died Tuesday at age 91 after a bout with pneumonia, his family said.
Capps said the last thing that gave out on the longtime professor and musician was his big heart.
“Yesterday, when I saw him for the last time, I held his hand and he still had a grip that could turn your fingers numb,” Capps said. “He was a one-of-a-kind person. Not one in a million, but the only one of his kind, and I loved him more than I could ever say.”
According to Rachel Yoder, director of communications for the University of North Texas College of Music, Rogers came to North Texas State Teachers College in 1939 on a double bass scholarship, and studied piano with Mary Anderson. After serving in the Army Signal Corps during World War II, Rogers completed his bachelor’s degree in piano at the Juilliard School. He took graduate courses at New York University and Columbia Teachers College, where he finished his master’s degree.
Rogers taught piano pedagogy from 1948 to 1984 at UNT and was assistant dean from 1969 to 1975.
As assistant music dean, he was chairman of the committee to remodel the Music Building. Rogers was a charter member and chapter adviser for the music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia.
He was an accomplished classical pianist, performing several times as soloist with the school orchestra.
In retirement, Rogers frequently played piano at fundraisers around Denton and at UNT events, and spent many hours volunteering at the UNT music library with his wife, Daisy.
Rogers’ son, Robert Rogers, said his father lived his life serving two communities — Denton and UNT.
“He was a dedicated professor during his career and he was an outstanding band leader,” Robert Rogers said.
His father was active and volunteered for many years after he retired and was the ultimate accompanist, he said.
“That was one of his great skills, to not seek the limelight but to make others’ light shine,” the younger Rogers said.
Rogers said it amazed him to see his father work as hard as he did when he was growing up, working a full-time university job and still having time for his son and Cub Scout activities and family trips.
“I learned from him what hard work looks like,” he said. “When all of my friends were complaining how many hours they were working and how hard it was … I just watched my dad do it my whole life. He was a great example for that work ethic.”
Donna Trammel, who worked with Bob Rogers for many years on a number of musical performances, said “the neighborhood will never be the same without Mr. Rogers.”
“I’m doing the first show I have ever tried to do without him all those years,” she said. “He will be missed by a lot of people.”
A reception for family and friends is scheduled from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at the UNT Alumni Center. A memorial service is planned for 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.
BJ LEWIS can be reached at 940-566-6875 and via Twitter at @BjlewisDRC.