Businessman dies at 94
He was a solid citizen.
Doyle Rogers, the man known as a visionary near and far, died Monday morning at his home in Batesville. He was 94.
Rogers began making headlines at an early age. He was no stranger to taking chances when it came to the business world and over the years became known as a leader in the field.
Born Oct. 20, 1918 in Diaz, he came from humble beginnings and spent his early years in Newport where his father had a job on the railroad.
Growing up poor and during the Great Depression he learned early on in life that if you wanted something you would have to find a way to get it.
In a previous interview, he said, “I think that one thing that made it different is that I knew I had the love of my parents, and I knew that I could make my own decisions. And my parents taught me that if I want spending money, I earn spending money.”
His first job was delivering the Newport Independent. The Jackson County town had a population of 6,000-7,000 and his paper route would cover 15 or 16 blocks. He later took on delivering the Arkansas Democrat and Grit.
By the time he got to college at Arkansas State University, he realized the cost of living would require a need for more revenue, so he and a friend came up with an idea, although he later said, it was not such a good one to do freshmen laundry.
When he wasn’t figuring out how to make money, his other love was tennis and one of his well-known tennis partners was Sam Walton, who would go on to be the founder of Walmart.
Both men were living in Newport and would often have coffee together. They would forge life-long friendships and became business partners.
The Doyle Rogers Co., with offices in Batesville and Little Rock, was instrumental in the development of Excelsior Hotel in 1982, which became The Peabody Little Rock, and the Statehouse Convention Center. In 1985, Rogers led the advancement of the Rogers Building, which is now the Stephens Building, along with numerous other developments. As a prominent developer he served as the longtime chair of the board at Metropolitan National Bank and was on the board of Citizens Bank.
According to his company website, Rogers worked several years at the Railway Express and also served in the U.S. and Royal Canadian armies in World War II. Rogers was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from Lyon College and Philander Smith College, and was a former member of the Board of Trustees of Hendrix College. He was also involved with the Boy Scouts of America, the Arkansas Children’s Youth Ranches and numerous other charitable organizations.
Because of his years of dedication to the Masonic lodges, he was honored with the Grand Cross Award, which is one of the highest individual honors the Supreme Court Council bestows. It is voted rarely to 33rd degree Masons only for the most exceptional and extraordinary services. He is among a handful of Arkansans including Wilbur D. Mills, Gov. Sid McMath, Harold Gwaltney and John Paul Hammerschmidt who have been given the award.
Considered one of the state’s most prominent businessmen, he received the William F. Rector Memorial Award from the Fifty for the Future organization in 2001 for his leadership in redeveloping downtown Little Rock.
Rogers was inducted into the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame in 2006. In 2001, he was named the Business and Professional Person of the Year by the Little Rock Rotary Club. In March of 2012, the city of Batesville honored Rogers for his accomplishments. Gov. Mike Beebe as well as many other local and state dignitaries were in attendance.
His contacts are impressive. Among them are presidents Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, evangelist Billy Graham, Gen. Colin Powell, actors and actresses along with his business partners and good friends.
With all of his accomplishments, Rogers always said the one thing he valued more than money was the love of his family.
He and his wife, Josephine Raye Rogers, were married for 71 years and raised two children, Barbara and Rog.
In 2001, he donated $1 million to the White River Medical Center in Batesville that was instrumental in creating the Josephine Raye Rogers Imaging Center for Women.
With his wife at his side for 71 years, he still recalled what she was wearing the first time he laid eyes on her saying, “I picked out the right person. When I married, I knew I was going to live with her for the rest of my life. Material things are wonderful, but your children and your family’s the main thing. So basically it’s a simple life — very simple. Go by the Golden Rule. If you go by the Golden Rule, your word’s your bond and (if you) live that kind of life, you’re not going to have any problems. At the end of the day it all comes back to living the simple life.”
Funeral services are pending.