Mr. William Howard Rodgers Jr., best known as “Bill,” passed away peacefully at his home in Onancock on Oct. 10, 2023, at age 84. Bill was born Oct. 18, 1938, on Chincoteague, the second son to the late William “Howard” Rodgers, Sr. and the late Nellie Tatem.
Bill was an intelligent and inquisitive child. He only attended one day of kindergarten and refused to go back because he was “smarter than that teacher that couldn’t remember his name.” He had a love for science at an early age, performing experiments, and loved blowing things up in his parents’ garage.
He attended all of his primary school years on Chincoteague. His high school years were devoted to multiple clubs, and he excelled in both football and track. He qualified to compete in the state track meet his senior year. Despite skipping kindergarten, he graduated with honors from Chincoteague High School in 1957.
In his last year of high school, he also discovered his love for his long-time friend, Anna Tolbert. They began dating their senior year. To everyone’s surprise, the couple eloped to Pocomoke City, Md., and they were married on Aug. 17, 1957.
After graduation, Bill left Chincoteague to attend the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. During the end of his freshman year, Bill and Ann welcomed their son, “Billy.” Bill and Ann lived in UVA’s married housing, where they made many lifelong friends and memories. In 1961 they welcomed their daughter, Kathryn “Kit.” Bill graduated with his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1963. He continued on at UVA, achieving his Master of Science degree in geology and graduating in 1965.
In 1965 Bill began working for Texaco as a geologist. His time with Texaco took him and his family to New Orleans, Miami, Trinidad, Wisconsin, and West Texas. In New Orleans they welcomed their third child, Mary. The family spent 10 wonderful years in Trinidad, where Bill spent much of his time outdoors. He loved sailing and taught the Duke of Edinburgh’s boys how to sail. He loved playing golf and exploring the local caves, looking for crystals. After leaving Trinidad, the family had a short stint in Miami before moving to Midland, Texas, where he retired from Texaco as chief geologist in 1985 after 20 years of adventures.
From 1985 to 1997, he joined Echo Corporation in Graham, Texas, as Vice President of Exploration. In Graham Bill enjoyed all the fun things Texas has to offer: hunting, fishing, playing golf, and taking in Texas Rangers baseball games. He also spent most summer days swimming in the pool with his children and grandchildren.
After retiring in 1997, Bill and Ann returned home to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where they built their dream home on the Chesapeake Bay. During retirement, Bill enjoyed woodworking. He built whatever piece of furniture Ann would dream up, just to her specifications. For several years, he and Ann volunteered at the Chincoteague Museum.
He spent much time playing games or fishing with Ann, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, whom he adored. He was an absolute cut-throat card player. Nothing brought a grin to his face faster than “shooting the moon” while playing Hearts, or playing an UNO Draw 4 card on an unsuspecting great-grandchild.
To say Bill will be missed by his family and friends is an understatement.
He leaves behind Ann, his loving wife of 66 years; daughter, Kit Jones and her husband “Jonesy,” granddaughter, Crystal Hull (Robert); grandsons, Nicholas Rich (Melissa), Jesse Partlow, and Micah Partlow; and his great-grandchildren, Avery, Reagan, and Robby Hull, and AJ and Ezzie Rich.
Bill is preceded in death by his mother, father, and brother, Richard “Dick” Rodgers, and his son, Billy, and daughter, Mary.
Memorial services were held on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, at 2 p.m. at the Chincoteague Museum Pavilion, with the Rev. Garland Stout officiating.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Museum of Chincoteague Island, 7125 Maddox Blvd., Chincoteague Island, VA 23336.
Services were entrusted to Salyer Funeral Home, Inc. on Chincoteague Island. Condolences may be made online at www.salyerfh.com