There are people who wander this earth that have no category.
They are neither great athletes, titans of industry or political giants.
They are just good people.
And if there is a hierarchy to this group Jake “Junior” Rogers sits at the head table.
Junior was love. He was goodness and kindness and an enigma of a man I never figured out. If you have lived here any time at all, you know Junior and his trademark ‘Purty, day, ain’t it” phrase. Junior was a consummate volunteer in this community. You would find him wearing his beloved red and black at every chamber of commerce event and major fish fry or barbecue from Godfrey to Apalachee. He was a staple in Bostwick on the Fourth of July and always followed with an appearance at his hometown of Buckhead that night for fireworks and chicken. He had a 100 watt smile and never a cross word for a fellow human.
Let’s face it, if Junior wasn’t at your event, was it really an event at all?
Junior came by this newspaper office each Wednesday for years to get the paper (free of charge, of course) and occasionally have his picture taken. I have personally taken his picture holding a letter he received from President George W. Bush thanking him for his support, a picture of him holding a picture of himself as a small child in Buckhead with his mother and father and small dog named “Skip” i believe and a picture of the last car he ever drove after a Pecan limb fell on the roof.
“That’s news!” he said and I didn’t argue.
By the way, the car was a community project. After Junior wrecked his, folks gathered and quietly gave money to buy him a vehicle. Jack Bone found a car that fit the needs and called Junior to give him the good news.
“Is it red?” he asked.
Bone chuckles at the memory and of the die-hard Georgia fan. “I think he was terribly disappointed,” he says.
Junior outlasted several chamber of commerce presidents, school superintendents and sheriff’s. If you needed a volunteer, you could do not better.
Therein lies the conundrum, at least for me. I’ve never trusted benevolence or acts of altruism. There’s always an angle, a poisoned hook that reaches up at the finish line and trips you up.
Not with Junior. His decency and public-spirited awareness has, and will never, have an equal. I can’t explain the man to you, others will be able to do a better job. He was a veteran, a church-going man who, to my knowledge, never had a wife or children but embraced this community with both arms and squeezed the goodness out of living with a hug and a tepid handshake.
Matthew 6:1 says “Be careful not to perform your righteous acts before men to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
Junior will be rewarded. And if God is having a fund-raiser or giving a door prize and needs a helping hand, Junior will pull the ticket.
And it will always be a pretty day.
– Patrick Yost