With great sadness, we announce the passing of Order of the Golden Heart recipient Richard “Dick” Rodgers, Illinois, ’52.
As an undergraduate, he served as Illinois Alpha’s historian. A well-rounded student, he played varsity basketball while serving as sports editor for the yearbook and drum major for the university marching band.
Following graduation, he embarked on a career in marketing, becoming one of the most sought-after experts in the field. His client roster included dozens of major corporations, among them Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Honeywell and American Airlines. He also served as a consultant to countless lawyers, doctors and small business owners and is highly regarded for pioneering the art of marketing professional services. Because of this expertise, he was tapped to create a course at Georgia Tech to teach architecture and engineering students how to promote their services to potential clients.
His work at the university led him to connect with the Georgia Alpha chapter, and he became a founding member of the Alumni and Volunteer Corporation (AVC). In 1986, he was named chapter counselor and served in the role for over 30 years.
In the early 1990s, Brother Rodgers chaired a successful capital campaign that raised over a $1 million. As a result, the AVC was able to make much-needed renovations to the chapter facility. When the student housing at Georgia Tech was selected as the athletic village for the 1996 Summer Olympics, Rodgers played a major role in making sure that Georgia Alpha’s renovated home and other Greek facilities were also included in the plan. A decade after steering the first fundraising effort, he led a second capital campaign to make additional improvements to the home.
Rodgers was also there as the chapter took its first steps in implementing the Balanced Man Program (BMP) in the early 2000s. The BMP was just starting to expand around the country, and much of the chapter’s success today can be traced directly to him. His innate people skills, combined with a knack for problem-solving honed during his career, made Rodgers the person brothers turned to time and time again when they needed encouragement or a sounding board on matters related to the BMP, academics and life.
Below, some of the brothers who knew him best share how Rodgers impacted their lives:
“Dick was a wonderful person and good friend. In his heart, he was a true SigEp. After he graduated, Dick worked for the alumni association, showing various important people around campus, including big band leader Woody Herman, who he brought by the chapter house for a meal. Dick was very proud of representing Illinois as the band’s drum major and appearing in the 1952 Rose Bowl, which was the first nationally televised bowl game and the first nationally televised college game of any sport. Dick was also a private pilot and flew me and two other chapter brothers up to the 1956 Michigan football game; it was the first plane ride for all three of us! Dick would help anyone out, and he certainly deserved his Order of the Golden Heart. I was proud of him when he was so honored.” — Vance Fraley, Illinois ’56
“With the passion that he led the famed Marching Illini Band as drum major in the mid-’50s, Dick came back ‘home’ one fall and brought that same enthusiasm as the Illinois Alpha Balanced Man Scholarship banquet keynote speaker. He extolled the lifelong value of getting involved with registered student organizations and stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone. His passion for life, service and development was evident in his effervescent charisma. Dick’s picture, along with a copy of his OGH certificate, are displayed proudly in our chapter home’s executive room.” — Shawn Dalgleish, Illinois ’81
“Mr. Rodgers was a model SigEp for his entire life, and gave years of his life in service to the Fraternity. He guided Georgia Alpha through its darkest days to some of its brightest. He struck a unique balance between revered mentor and casual friend. He mentored countless men on life, careers and family. He was a successful professional, teacher, volunteer and, most importantly, a model brother. He was the living, breathing example of a balanced man and lived that ideal for almost 90 years. When he was awarded the Fraternity’s highest honor, the Order of the Golden Heart, he was humbled and asked that the award be shared with the chapter for posterity. It now hangs in the chapter library named in his honor.
“I believe in my soul that Dick was welcomed to (in his words) ‘The Big Chapter House in the Sky,’ greeted with the words we all want to hear: ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant.’ We will miss you, until we meet again … ” — James Washburn, Georgia Tech ’02
“Dick emailed me out of the blue in 2005 after I accepted a new position, with such a great comment that I had to contact him and get to know this guy. As both of us were SigEps from Illinois Alpha living in Atlanta, we became fast friends with great stories about our times at the chapter and the University of Illinois. If I had to summarize Dick in one sentence, it would be: ‘Like all great teachers and leaders, his energy, enthusiasm, quick mind and always-positive demeanor made everyone around him a better person.’” — George Komer, Illinois ’73