John C. Rogers of Billings, MT passed away on October 5, 2019. He was born John Waugh, August 6, 1936 in Kansas City, Missouri. His biological mother was from Chariton, Iowa; his biological father was an electrical engineer in the area. At a very young age John was adopted by his parents A.J. “Beans” Rogers and Hilda M. “Sally” Wommack Rogers. He was schooled in Columbus, Billings, and Boise, ID, completing his high school years in Basin, WY.
He was enrolled at Casper College one semester before entering the U.S. Navy Air Force in 1955 for four years. While serving in the Navy he was stationed in San Diego, CA; Norman, OK; Olathe, KS; Brooklyn, NY; Argentina, Newfoundland; and Kingsville, TX. John served in the North Atlantic on the DEW (Distant Early Warning) Line, and in Texas on the Gulf, in flight operations. He was honorably discharged in 1959, moving to Billings in 1960, to enroll at Eastern Montana College (now MSU-B), eventually graduating with a B.A. in history in 1969, after several interruptions. He then did graduate work in archaeology at the University of Montana where he was a member of Alpha Kappa Delta. He worked at various jobs including private and government surveying and acting for Paramount Studios in Little Big Man before going back to college briefly to obtain his teaching certificate. He started teaching at Park City High School in 1974. During that time John obtained a Master’s Degree. He completed his teaching career in 2000. At that time he was the graduation commencement speaker at the request of the students. He was listed a total of fourteen years in Who’s Who Among American Teachers. He was in several stage plays while living ‘back East’: Noel Coward’s The Boyfriend and Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner. John also worked for Story House Productions, a German TV film company in Custer – Dance With The Dead, and also for Granada TV, from Manchester, England, after his retirement. Both were documentaries on the archaeological excavations at the Little Big Horn Battlefield.
John was an avid semi-professional archaeologist as well as a professional historian. He was twice the president of the Montana Archaeology Society (1974-1974, 1990-1991), president of the Billings Archaeology Society and CEO of the Northwestern Plains Anthropological conference held in Billings in 1991.
John, along with his friends in the “Wild Bunch”, spent many happy days in the mountains or floating the Missouri River, ostensibly doing archaeology and historical research.
John wrote various articles on history and archaeology. He was a member or past member of the Montana Historical Society, the Montana Archaeological Society (past president), the Billings Archaeological Society (past president), the Little Big Horn Battlefield Association, the Yellowstone Corral of Westerners (board member for many years), the Stillwater Historical Society, the Carbon County Historical Society, the Big Horn Historical Society, the Brotherhood of the Busted Trowel (a.k.a. the Wild/Mild Bunch), the Montana Education Association, the Montana Federation of Teachers, the American Historical Society, the Montana State University-Billings Alumni Association, the Smithsonian Institute, Alpha Kappa Delta, Center for the study of Early Man, associate member of the American Museum of Natural History, the Town and Gown, the Planetary Society, and the Montana Retired Teachers and School Personnel Association. He was on the Pictograph Cave planning board and the advisory board for the Montana FWP. He also worked with Rocky Mountain College’s Institute for Peace Studies.
John married Joyce Applegate in 1961 in Basin, Wyoming. To the union was born their daughter Kelle, in 1964. They lost one unborn child. In 1970, John and Joyce were divorced. In 1974, John married MaryAnn Daley MacDonald of Laurel. They were divorced in 1975. In 1982 John married Tina Nichols of Billings. They lost one unborn child. They were divorced in 1992.
John leaves behind the greatest love and joy of his life, his daughter Kelle M. (Mike) Saldana. John had this philosophy about his daughter. A world which can produce such a person as his admirable daughter need not have angels to be filled with wonder. He leaves many cousins, relatives, and friends, also many former students, his ex-wives Joyce, who remained a friend, and MaryAnn. His grandson Logan, Michael Saldana, his former stepchildren Tasha and Sonni, and step-granddaughters Madeleine, Topanga, and Deryni. His adoptive children Jayden and Connor Waddingham, as well as his ‘adopted’ daughter Vavi Rathe. He also leaves behind many close, personal friends. There are too many to list, but they know who they are.
One of his greatest joys was keeping in touch with his former students. John thoroughly enjoyed the interaction he had with many of his students throughout the world including many who became good friends over the years. He considered most of his students as an extended family. His educational ideology, taken from the Shaolin philosophy was, “Once a student and teacher meet intellectually, the relationship never ends”. He hoped by teaching, he cast a long shadow. One of his greatest times was traveling to Ireland, then on to Yorkshire, England to meet friends and a former student.
John was preceded in death by his parents “Beans” and “Sally” Rogers, of Worland, WY. His grandparents, John “Burt” and Maude Underwood, Carl and Bernice Rogers, all of Columbus, his former wife Tina, who was his special friend through the years. Two unborn children, as well as many aunts and uncles and a cousin killed in Vietnam, ten cats, and three dogs. Cremation has taken place. A memorial service celebrating his Irish love of life will be held at Cremation & Funeral Gallery on Saturday October 19 at 2:00 P.M. In lieu of, or with flowers, please either send a donation to MSU-B’s history department scholarship fund for history students, and/or plant a tree or a flower, have a drink at your favorite Irish pub. Above all, remember him with a smile!