Cover photo for William  E. Rogan's Obituary
William  E. Rogan Profile Photo
1917 William 2012

William E. Rogan

July 19, 1917 — October 13, 2012

He was born on July 19, 1917 and was baptized at St Ray's. There are probably none left who remember little Billie Rogan as he served the early morning Mass at St Ray's in the late 20's and early 30's. During the Depression, he religiously served those Masses after buying and selling vegetables to do his part to help the family, after doing his homework and after attending school, because "those were tough times and people depended on Mass to get them through". However, if you are old enough, you may have graduated with him from "De LaSalle", now called Joliet Catholic High, in 1935. Or, you may remember the Bill Rogan who delivered your groceries for Lamb's Meat Market on Cass Street where he learned his trade as a Meat Cutter. Or, you may have worked with him on the "J" where he worked as a fireman with his Dad, Bill Rogan, Sr. Or, you may remember Bill Rogan as the Manager of the Meat Department at the A&P who, with his ready smile, gave you your best cuts of meat. Or, if you had been a member of what was then called the Meat Cutters Union you would remember Bill Rogan as the President who always listened to you and fought to protect your rights. You may remember Bill Rogan as the good natured man who ushered at St Ray's for over 60 years, though many of you would think of Bill as Mrs. Rogan's (School Secretary at St Ray's) husband. Virginia (Stukel) was his "Virge", his "Dolly". You may remember the two of them as they began together the 30-year tradition of planting the beautiful gardens surrounding the Cathedral with the thousands of flowers that Bill lovingly grew from seed in his basement. They corralled their best pals in the Men's Club so you would find the likes of John Baltz, Jim Schultz, Pat Renz and other members of Bill's "Dirty Dozen", diggin' in the dirt and hoisting a brew - or two - for the flowers. And, when you asked him how so many flowers were planted, he told you, "one flower at a time." Or, you may remember Bill as the guy you saw hauling those heavy hoses late into the evening around St Ray's always watching out that God's flowers got their water. (The only time you would get on the wrong side of Bill Rogan, was if you harmed, or didn't water, God's flowers.) Or, on a quiet walk, you may have seen him lovingly tending and grooming the cloister garden dedicated to his Virginia, when it was still in the center. You may be one who remembers Bill Rogan as the guy who took your Electric Bill as you paid it at Meade Baltz Paint Company where 30 years ago he "died and went to Heaven" being able to hang out with his pals there, Meade Baltz, John Baltz and the 'great kids' Mike, Brian, Tom, Bill and Peggy Baltz, as the post-retirement version of his love - which for Bill was work. As his friend, you were not surprised to know that 15 years ago, as he waited for the emergency surgery he was prepared to believe he would not survive, he picked up the bedside phone to call his friend, John Baltz -- taking that precious time to thank him for all that he had done for him and to say 'goodbye'. Like his father before him, he was a frustrated intellectual. They both had the curious minds of those who would have preferred the life of the mind, but who each took instead the path of responsibility to family in the post-depression and early World War II era. And so it was that he supported Rita, as she took on their torch to finally put a PhD after the name Rogan for all three of them. And, with equal energy and pride he supported Jean's education and her life-choice of the family role that he himself had so loved. He got the best of both worlds sharing each of those separate paths with his 'girls'. It is no surprise that what his daughter Rita cherishes most is the man who was never ever too tired after his 14 hour days to have a talk and listen in his basement workroom. Or, that his dear neighbors, Doris and Don, would remember seeing him standing in the backyard in the dead of winter with the garden hose, making a skating rink for his little Jeannie. He was blessed with three grandchildren. Today, ironically, he is in the best place ever to continue his beloved job as the Godfather for his only grandson, Michael. The dining room at Jean and Pete's (Haas) became the gathering place for the family Holidays. (an added benefit of having Pete for a son-in-law was Pete's love of guns - which gave Bill the pellet-gun-solution to the squirrels who ate his precious flowers.) Pete and Jean gave Bill and Virginia two granddaughters, Chrissy and Katie. They were the icing on Bill and Virge's cake, taking them from ice skating competitions, to horse shows. Bill celebrated each and every one of their growing stack of medals and trophies. He felt that Chrissy would succeed no matter what she chose to do, and he was happy to be right, as she is Christine Haas, News Anchor, San Diego. And, he thought Katie would be an Olympic ice skater - he thought she was really that good. Once again however, he could enjoy the best of both worlds - Chrissy the professional woman, and Katie, the woman who chose the role of homemaker. And, then came the great grandchildren. Bill thought that Chrissy and Todd's (Rogenthien), son Peter was not only handsome, but 'smart as a whip'. Peter smiles when he remembers exploring the birds and the fish with Grandpa each time they spent together. Grandpa Bill's life touched the Rogenthien family in a very special way. Chrissy mostly remembers his deep love for the Cathedral and his constant passion to make its grounds beautiful. Todd will cherish his quick wit and desire to make someone smile when they walked into his room. Katie and Mark (Gehrman) remember the countless Sunday dinners with their Grandpa, which were full of love and laughter. His great granddaughter, Ginnie will always remember being Great Grandpa's 'Little Red Head'. He always greeted her with a hug even up to the last visit. And, we know Bill will watch from beyond as his newest little great grandson, M J continues to grow into a strong young man. And, when many people think their life has ended by the move to the Nursing Home, Bill once again, showed us all how to do it. He charmed his way through growing dependency and graduating dementia, and through all of this, his 'Bill- isms' prevailed. He became 'special' to dozens of his caretakers. So, if you visited Sunnyhill you would have recognized him as the guy who charmed the nurses, schmoozed with the security guards and you would have heard the choruses of "Hey Bill" along every corridor he wheeled through. And, though he truly had mastered his goal -- the art of Irish Diplomacy, (the ability to tell someone to go to Hell so that they looked forward to the trip), the staff actually had to pull the wheelchairs of Bill and another guy apart as they engaged in an arm-locked-donnybrook. But, for as much good humor as he could produce, make no mistake about it. Bill would tell you, as would Rita and Jean, how much we all hated this particularly cruel time in our lives. And yet, he never stopped teaching us. When her beloved Peter was taken from her, Jean learned from and admired her Father's strength to 'go on' after he himself had lost the love of his life, Virginia. He told her to face every obstacle by saying 'This too shall pass'. On Saturday, October the 13th, at 1:05 PM, while listening to his and Virginia's lovesong, Glenn Miller's 'Moonlight Serenade', Bill gave Rita and Jean the most powerful gift of all --- allowing them to walk the path of his natural death - as far along with him as one could go - until his two tears blended with theirs, as he left. Funeral from the Blackburn-Giegerich and Sonntag Funeral Home, Saturday October 20, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. to the Cathedral of St. Raymond for a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 a.m. Interment at St. Joseph's Cemetery. Visitation Friday, October 19, 2012 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
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