Rufus S. Rodgers 1927-2021
EAST PALESTINE — Rufus Sandy Rodgers, 93, was called home to God, Friday, April 23, 2021, after an extended battle with Alzheimer’s disease.
He was born in Canton, on June 20, 1927, to John Edmund Churchill and Grace Sandy Rodgers, growing up with two younger sisters, Calista (Genre) and Nancy (Henceroth). His mother, Grace, died when he was 15; his father remarried Geraldine Allen, and they had his half-sister, Delta Lou.
Growing up, he pursued sports and music. In his teen years, he loved baseball and riding his bike, as evidenced by his legendary rides from Lorain, Ohio to Saint Louis to see numerous Major League games when he was 17. He was on the baseball and tennis varsity teams and played the drums in the high school band.
He graduated from Lorain High School in 1945 and immediately left and joined the Navy. He served as a signal man for two years, traveling the seas of the world, starting his lifelong quest for travel. Upon his return, he enrolled in the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, following in his father’s footsteps to become a teacher. He continued to participate in sports as an active member of the cross-country team.
Life changed for Rufus in the summer of 1948, when riding back on a bus to Ohio, where he met Betty Elaine Clark. Love hit them hard and they married Sept. 1, 1948. They moved to Milwaukee, where he finished his teaching degree and began a family. Together they raised their four children, Gary Rodgers of Indiana, Sandra Velasquez of Florida, Jeff Rodgers of Arkansas and Scott Rodgers of Utah.
Rufus taught and coached kids in the Milwaukee and Elm Brook school districts for 35 years. He always went beyond teaching in the classroom and planning unique experiences for his students, such as traveling to Chicago to venture to the top of one of the highest buildings in the U.S., attending marionette plays, going to national parks to see Kettle Moraine, and playing “king of the hill” on Indiana sand dunes.
Throughout Rufus’ life, one of his favorite past times was collecting stamps, coins, sports memorabilia and cards, time shares, photographs / slides from his travels, and numerous other items. He encouraged his friends to hunt for items to contribute to his collections. One of his most enduring collections included more than 60,000 buttons advertising political candidates, sports teams, products, businesses, etc.
Rufus and Betty loved traveling and started the tradition of planning week-long family reunions for their kids and their families. Rufe and Betty also travelled together throughout the United States and much of the world, including Europe, Egypt, Russia, Australia and China. They enjoyed all types of music, cuisines, cultures and people from around the world.
Sadly, after 50 years of being happily married, Betty passed away in 1999.
In spite of losing his beloved Betty, Rufus pushed on and kept busy traveling and spending time with his growing family, now 17 grandkids and 28 great-grandkids strong. But the best treasure, he found during this last 20-plus years, was his second wife, Mary Huebert Weaver Rodgers.
They married Nov. 2, 2000, and moved to Columbiana. Mary, her family, her friends and church, immediately embraced Rufus as one of their own. Rufus became a member of the Midway Mennonite Church, where he and Mary faithfully attended and served God and their savior, Jesus Christ. Rufe and Mary loved socializing with their friends in Columbiana and in Florida. They traveled several times a year, attended all the major family events, and loved to watch sports together. Many people are fortunate to find one love in a lifetime, and Rufe found two. Mary is an awesome wife and an integral part of the whole Rodgers family.
Rufus’ family extends thanks to friends and family who gave support and prayers and to Mary and Christian House staff, who lovingly cared for him during the last years of his life. Rufus leaves behind a legacy of love, strength and good memories for his family and friends.
A funeral service will be held Saturday, May 1, 2021, at noon at Midway Mennonite Church, 13376 Columbiana-Canfield Road, Columbiana.
The family will receive friends Saturday from 11 a.m. until the time of the service at the church. We ask that those joining us observe all current guidelines regarding social distancing and mask wearing.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Rufus’ memory to Midway Mennonite Church, 13376 Columbiana-Canfield Road, Columbiana, OH 44408 or Christian House, 82 Garfield Ave. East Palestine, OH 44413.
The family has entrusted Seederly-Mong and Beck Funeral Home in Columbiana with the arrangements for their loved one. Family and friends are invited to visit www.seederly-mongandbeck.com to sign the guestbook or send private condolences.