I lost my Dad a year ago today. I had hoped to do a proper diary on this first anniversary, but things have been crazy at work the past couple of weeks and I never quite had the time or the energy to do it justice. This is something I wrote for his memorial service. Here it is as I wrote it, from the heart and unfiltered.
The only thing Dad ever wanted to be was a farmer. He could have been anything he wanted. Doctor, lawyer, engineer, teacher. Anything. He chose to be a farmer. He considered it a noble calling. He was a disciple of the Green Revolution. He firmly believed that with modern scientific agricultural methods, the American Farmer could feed the world. He considered that his mission.
Dad’s entire life was about stewardship, about taking care of the land. Preserving it for future generations. Leaving it better than he found it.
In 1955 he bought the home place, where I grew up, there south of the Willie Place. We moved there when I was just a little kid. The place was a total wreck. Gullies all over it. Little odd shaped fields here and there between the gullies. Old broken down fences all grown up and blown under. Sand dunes you couldn’t drive over.
We moved there in 1955 and he went to work making it better. How he ever made a living on that sad excuse for a farm I don’t know. There wasn’t much to work with and it had to be touch and go in the beginning. I don’t think he could have made it if Neil Dikeman and Truman Melton and Don Clark at the First State Bank hadn’t believed in him and kept him going when others might have failed.
But he didn’t fail. He made it work. He turned that old broken down farm around. He cleaned out the old fence rows. He pushed down the sand dunes and filled in the gullies. He built terraces to control the water and stop the erosion. Bub Horn must have worn out two or three dozers pushing dirt around on that place.
All the time I was growing up I thought we were dirt poor. He never spent any money on us if he could help it. We wore the same clothes til they unravelled and fell off of us. He would buy some old used pickup and drive it til the wheels fell off. He would buy an old tractor and run it til it wouldn’t run any more. If he had any extra money he would put it back into the farm. Making it better.
He spent his entire life building up that farm. Making it better. Controlling erosion. Building up the top soil. He took that old worn out wreck of a place and turned it into a productive farm. And that is his legacy for all of us. Taking care of the land. Preserving it for future generations. Leaving it better than he found it.
William Garland Rogers 1923 – 2007