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‘Piano Man’ left lasting legacy

“I don’t know who could take his place.”

“[He was] one of a kind.”

“We were not ready to give him up.”

The simple phrases convey so much about the breadth and depth of Bob Rogers’ reach across the Denton community.

At 91, Denton’s “Piano Man” died after a bout with pneumonia, leaving a legacy that leads back to the very foundations of many of Denton’s social networks and organizations.

Bob, with his ever-present smile, never turned down anyone who asked him to perform at a fundraiser or play a beloved tune while listening to his massive repertoire during a Denton Benefit League event.

From a few parties at the Denton Country Club to the Bob Rogers Trio performances at Dallas and Fort Worth clubs, Bob’s piano skills were legendary.

A professor emeritus of piano pedagogy (1948-1984), the lifelong musician planted many of the seeds that have since sprouted in today’s music industry.

His love of the keyboard started in childhood when his mother would chase him off of the piano bench so that his sisters — Beth Lorino and Kay Rhoads — could practice.

Years later, that love would lead to a bachelor’s degree in piano at The Julliard School and later to the University of North Texas where his accomplishments as a classical pianist where shared with many a student, not to mention the times he performed as a piano soloist with the UNT orchestra.

His son, Robert Rogers, recalls the strong work ethic his father instilled in him at a young age — a work ethic taught by example. It amazed the son to watch his father work full time at the university while still finding time for family trips and Cub Scout activities with him.

“I learned from him what hard work looks like,” Robert Rogers said, adding that his father served as a great example for a strong work ethic.

On Dec. 7, 1944, Bob married the love of his life, Daisy Putnam Rogers, who has also long been a supporter of Denton’s music and arts.

Bob played a big part in the Donna Trammell group where he would work with longtime Denton residents to raise funds to help grow the Greater Denton Arts Council.

“I’m doing the first show I have ever tried to do without him all those years,” Trammel said Tuesday. “He will be missed by a lot of people.”

In his spare time, Bob would perform at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church and was still playing late in his life.

As one fellow church member and longtime friend recalls, “if Bob could sit at the piano, he was playing.”

A family visitation is set from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday at the UNT Alumni Center. A memorial service is set for 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.

Peggy Capps said she visited Bob one last time earlier this week.

“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,” Bob’s longtime friend recalled.

“He was a one-of-a-kind person. Not one in a million, but the only one of his kind.”