Arthur Rogers

Obituary of Arthur Rogers

Arthur Arnold Rogers of Middletown, formerly of Deerfield, MA (1952-2008), died peacefully on Saturday, September 2, 2017 after an extended illness. Born February 14, 1925 in Evanston, IL, he attended local schools and the University of Wisconsin in Madison. His college years were interrupted by service in the U.S. Navy 1943-46, where he held the post of ensign in anti-submarine warfare on the U.S.S. Fletcher. After the war, he continued at Wisconsin for a B.S. in Geology, and went on to Harvard University where he earned a Master’s degree in Paleontology in 1949.

He was employed by Royal Dutch Shell in Baton Rouge, LA and Corpus Christie, TX until 1952, when he became owner and operator of Hilltop Farm, his wife Anne’s family farm in Deerfield, MA. There he managed all aspects of the dairy business, milking, working with employees on crops and buildings, marketing the milk, caring for his land and herd. In 1986, he sold the herd and leased the farm property to a neighboring farmer.

Arthur was active in many community and state organizations. In 1990, he and Anne founded the Deerfield Land Trust (now merged with the Franklin Land Trust), where he served as president until 2004. A favorite focus was the popular local theatre company, The Stockade Players (1956-69), where he worked in many capacities on and off stage. His Deerfield town commitments included the Planning Board, the School Committee, and contributions to the Tercentennial Pageant. Some of his wider roles included service as President of the Franklin County Farm Bureau, Founding Secretary of the Mass. Cooperative Milk Producers Federation (1956-1974), Vice-President of the Regional Common Marketing Agency, and Director, United Dairy Industries Association.

In 1992, Arthur gave a conservation restriction to the Mass. Department of Environmental Management for his land along the Connecticut River, and in 1995 received an APR (Agricultural Preservation Restriction) payment for development rights on much of his large farm acreage.

In 1949, he married Anne Fiske Davenport, who died in 1991. They had three children who survive him, along with their spouses and his grandchildren: William (Meg Wickwire), Jonathan, Evan, Penn; Arthur (Laura Johnson), Luke; Margaret (Martin Schumacher), Emma, Molly. In 1992, he married Janet Warren Buell, who survives him, along with her four Buell children and their spouses, George (Megan Kelly), Lisa (Jeff Piemont), Becky (Rick Bauer), Sam (Erika), and eight step-grandchildren, Alex, Dan and Ben Piemont; Avery Buell; Cora and Sophie Bauer; Madeleine and Anna Buell. In 2008, the couple retired to the Newport area. Jan is a resident of Blenheim-Newport in Middletown.

A man with a remarkable array of skills and interests, Arthur was a gifted classical pianist and devotee of classical music, Chopin foremost. He was the family historian for his Arnold forebears, the founders of the Lazy Lawn place in Middletown, where he spent many happy summers as a child and which he always viewed as a center of his life.  An aficionado of political issues, a cartoonist, photographer, chess player, epic coffee drinker, and avid reader in all genres, he was also adept at fixing things. It was said that he was the only one for miles around who could repair the hay baler.

He usually scoffed at the description of him in John Steinbeck’s “Travels with Charley.” The author began his 1960 trip across the United States in Deerfield, having asked permission to camp in the Hilltop Farm orchard. In describing that setting, he wrote that “the farmer” was the happiest man he’d encountered in his entire journey.

The family plans a later gathering to honor Arthur’s grand life. With all their hearts, they thank the staff at Royal Middletown Nursing Center (formerly Forest Farm) for over three years of extraordinary, expert, loving care. Donations in Arthur’s memory will be welcomed by the Franklin Land Trust, P.O. Box 450, Shelburne Falls, MA 01370. www.franklinlandtrust.org.