Memorial: “The Joy of Living”

Pat Rogers is a picture of joyfulness.

It’s not necessarily happiness, which comes and goes like a burst balloon, but an inner peace that rests in knowing God has a plan for her.

Even in the midst of the sudden death of her husband (1997), she was joyful. Sure, she grieved and felt the loss of her partner of 50 years. She was only 67; he was 69 when he died of a massive heart attack.

To say they were close would be an understatement.

The pair had known each other since she was two years old and he was four years old, so said their mothers. They were high school sweethearts and married while in their teens in Frederick, in a small southwest Oklahoma town near Lawton. They both attended then-Central State College, and he went on to the University of Oklahoma.

But Pat Rogers took comfort in knowing she hadn’t lost him, “like she misplaced him.” She knew where he was and she would see him again. But most importantly, she knew that the Creator was in control and she trusted in Him.

Fellow church members say husband, Bill, embodied joy, as does Pat.

“Joy is more than happiness. It is an inner gladness of the heart, regardless of circumstances. You must know the presence and perspective of God to have joy,” she said.

Pat Rogers ministers to those who have lost a spouse, providing a “care bag,” which contains comforts such as a poem about tears — they “honor our loved ones.” She teaches sessions on “When Death Do We Part,” with a tissue stapled to the handouts.

“You know God has a special love for widows and orphans,” she said.

So, without any family in the area and her church family as her only support, she remained in Edmond after her husband’s death, living in the Lexington addition in west Edmond. They had just moved there 10 years before.

Her three grown children consider her house “a museum.” There’s the grandchild/family wall with a changeable showcase of snapshots, the “ancestor wall” with photographs of her forefathers, the “daddy” corner that commemorates her father’s 42-year career with Frisco railroad, the “career wall” that depicts accomplishments of Bill and Pat, and, at the centerpiece of the house, around and above the fireplace, her memorial to her husband, filled with photographs, poems, testaments to the spiritual gifts and four albums filled with love letters he wrote her dating back to their adolescence.

To some, this might sound some-what overdone. But to Pat, her home exemplifies how God has blessed her and been with her through the good times and bad.

Leaving the lucrative life behind.

There were some difficult times. When Bill was in his 40s, he chose to leave a lucrative 20-year career with IBM and the hotbed of activity in New York City.

He had been called to the ministry in Los Angeles.

“He had a great burden to minister to business people. He saw so many unhappy lives; so many of them didn’t know God. They had everything that the world had to own, but not the most important thing of all. He felt he could relate to them.”

So, the family of five sold everything — furniture and their three-story, five-bedroom home — left their life of luxury and headed for the West Coast.

In the midst of this, the entire family was in college — Bill in seminary, Pat returning to finish her degree, and the three children, just 19 months apart, at university.

In California, he attended Fuller and Talbot seminaries. Upon graduation, he joined Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church, a Bible church in the Los Angles area. MacArthur is known nationwide and his sermons are broadcasts daily locally on KQCV.

After two stints in California, split by a few years in Ponca City establishing Pioneer Bible Church, the two retired to Edmond in 1988 and joined Faith Bible Church on North Coltrane.

There, Pat Rogers enjoys bringing joy to others through church socials.

For the ladies luncheon on Mother’s Day, she organized a “Silly Style Show” with women dressed in “classy” outfits, complete with a 14-“carrot” necklace and “gold pump shoes” fixed up with real bicycle pumps. A few years ago, a gifted Sunday School teacher was moving and Rogers narrated a “Hillbilly” get-together.

A pastor’s best friend.

Scot Overby, associate pastor, said that Pat Rogers’ attitude is so upbeat, it is infectious.

“It’s unexplainable. It’s a fruit of the spirit. She has it in good times and bad times. It’s contagious. It flows out of her. People around her are enthusiastic.

“When she lost her husband, Bill — the two of them were the epitome of joy — during that time she was still exhibiting joy. Certainly, she mourned the loss of him, but she was just upbeat, excited all the time. She was going through probably the most difficult trial in her life, (but) that quality pervaded (everything).”

“She’s a pastor’s best friend. You wish you could just clone her — her hugs, words or encouragement, her joyful countenance. It’s legendary around here.”

As she enters the autumn of her life (she would be 82 in October of 2011) she faces the same challenges as most anyone her age; health and financial issues, and the constant struggle to remain independent and not be a burden to her children.

All of these would pull anyone down. For her though, happiness is temporary, joy is a constant.

“God is in control. God has a plan. We trust in God. As scripture states, ‘do not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.’”

Original story appeared in Wednesday, July 18, 2001 issue of The Edmond Sun, pages 1A, 4A. Written by Carol Hartzog, formally with the Edmond Sun.

« More Champions of Character