This afternoon I got an unexpected call letting me know that Rodger had passed away. Rodger and I were colleagues at the college for over 20 years. We didn’t see eye to eye for about the first 10 years but we maintained a collegial relationship and agreed to disagree.
It was a classic situation where I was the young guy freshly hired who had all the ideas about how the photography department should be run based upon my more recent industry experiences. I didn’t appreciate what I perceived to be as a less than enthusiastic pace.
I would often be frustrated by feeling like I worked harder and yet Rodger was much more beloved by everyone in the building. He had a gentle demeanor and a gentle pacing to everything he did. He spoke slow and softly while my direct staccato approach to teaching would face resistance. I often thought about Newton’s third law of physics that states that for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.
By the time Rodger retired I really appreciated him. He had the wisdom to make time to build and maintain relationships. I was honored when he asked me to make his retirement portrait.
Rodger understood what was really important. He embodied the quote, “We don’t remember the things people do, we remember how they made us feel.”
Rodger made everyone, including me, feel appreciated and respected. In the end he was an important mentor and an inspiration. From him I have learned to aspire to let go of trying to be a know it all and instead embrace being a love them all kind of person.
After he retired he e would occasionally stop by my house out of the blue and we would catch up. The last time I saw him was not that long ago when he invited me to judge for the Spokane Camera Club. He embodied a love for photography and a love for every human being he came across. I can only hope that I can pass on his legacy to the next generation of students and faculty as I near my own retirement.
Rest in peace dear friend.