In Memory: Longtime Rowing Advocate and Supporter T. Gary Rogers

Oakland, Calif. – Rowing legend and longtime supporter, T. Gary Rogers, passed away while playing tennis at his home in Oakland, California on Tuesday, May 2. The news has touched many in the rowing community as Rogers was a friend to many and a major philanthropic contributor.Gary-casual-photo

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of a beloved, longtime supporter and USRowing friend. Gary’s dedication and commitment to the sport of rowing and to preserving the community made him an invaluable advocate for our sport,” said Susan Smith, USRowing’s interim CEO. “We are constantly reminded of his unwavering generosity and philanthropic endeavors, especially as they relate to the University of California and its rowing team, the Lighthouse Community Charter School and the T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center.”

Rogers was born in Stockton, California, in 1942 and spent his youth in Marin County. A distinguished Eagle Scout, he attributed much of his personal character to his experiences as a Boy Scout and as an oarsman, and to his family’s deeply held values of integrity and honor.

In 1963, he graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California. He was named an All-University Athlete that same year and rowed in the 1964 U.S. Olympic Trials. In 1968, he received a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School.

In 1977, at age 34, Rogers and his business partner, William Cronk, purchased Dreyer’s, the ice cream plant in the Rockridge neighborhood of Oakland. Dreyer’s had been founded in 1928 by William Dreyer and Joseph Edy, the visionaries said to have created the Rocky Road flavor.

Rogers also served as chairman of Safeway, Inc., Levi Strauss & Co. and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, as well as the Bay Area Council, a regional association devoted to business and public policy.

In addition to being a well respected and successful entrepreneur, Rogers devoted much of his time and resources to philanthropy, as the primary benefactor of the University of California Cal Crew Forever Endowment Fund, the T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center and the California Rowing Club for elite post-graduate oarsmen. He was also a member of USRowing’s High Performance Committee.

Rogers was dedicated to supporting, mentoring and fostering the next generation of rowers, holding numerous public service leadership positions and was the benefactor of the Rogers Family Foundation, which supports the University of California, education and activities for youth in Oakland and the East Bay, Bay Area hospitals, and bioscience research and innovation organizations.

Friend and colleague Jamie Koven, co-chair of the National Rowing Foundation, Olympian and world champion said, “Gary was a wonderful friend and an outstanding supporter of rowing. I was lucky enough to meet him in 2010 and really enjoyed his gregarious and inquisitive personality as we worked together in support of rowing over the years. Gary embodied what we all strive to achieve at the NRF by supporting the next generation of rowers in a deep and meaningful way. ‘Fortune favors only the prepared mind,’ was Gary’s favorite quote. He spread that message not just at Cal and the California Rowing Club, but to the athletes in Chula Vista, Princeton, Lucerne and Henley. He loved rowing, and he loved that hard work and preparation set people up for success in rowing and in life. We will really miss him.”

Rogers’ passion for travel took him all over the world – to both the North and South Poles, the plains of the Serengeti and the Amazon jungle. He sought out challenges and fought fiercely to overcome them, living by the motto, “there is no such thing as can’t; there is only won’t.”

“On behalf of the entire USRowing organization, we send our heartfelt condolences to the Rogers Family and pledge to keep Gary’s legacy and passion for the sport alive and to always remember, in the words of Gary himself, that “the joy in life is in the journey,” said Smith.    

An outdoor memorial service will be held at the T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center on Monday, May 15 at 11:00 a.m., at the T. Gary Rogers Rowing Center, 2999 Glascock Street, Oakland, California. Due to limited parking, carpooling and use of ride-sharing services are encouraged.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that Gary’s legacy be recognized through donation to these worthy organizations:

  • T. Gary Rogers Endowment Fund for the UC Berkeley Men’s Crew, Rogers Family Office 10 Clay Street, Suite 200 Oakland, CA  94607
  • Lighthouse Community Charter School, Attn: Jenna Stauffer 444 Hegenberger Road Oakland, CA 94621


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