Her dad, the mensch
A friend of ours who's done a little blogging in her time asked us to do her a favor this weekend, and in the rush of too, too much to do, we fell down on the job. The favor was to post something she had written about her dad on his 80th birthday, which up until a few minutes ago we had registered as being today, Sunday.
Well, now we see that doh! The big day was yesterday, and we never did get her writing about her father up on this page. But having been unable to wish our own dad the best on his 80th, which he did not get to spend in this world, we know where she was coming from when she asked us to get involved. And so here's what she wrote. Even though birthday wishes would technically be a day late at this point, words like these don't really have an expiration date:
My dad, Bert Rogoway, turns 80 on Saturday, 1/23/10. I know that most people feel that their dad is the best person in the world. In my case, it’s true.We don't have Bert's e-mail address, but if folks leave him a note in the comments to this post, we're sure that somehow his daughter will see that he gets it -- when he gets home from his volunteer gigs. He sounds like quite a guy.
Knowing how many Portland readers you have, here’s my thought: Could you post something about my dad and ask readers to email him with a happy birthday message? He would be so delighted. I did not inherit my need for attention/praise/glory from my dad. He is a humble man.
So the bio:
As a Portland native (a rarity these days), my dad has spent his entire life in this city. He attended Portland public schools through 12th grade (graduating from Benson High School), served in the Oregon National Guard for eight years and for over forty years, worked as a small businessman at his family’s business, LaRog Jewelers, on SE 82nd and Foster.
My dad married my mom Laurie in 1965, at the Benson Hotel and quickly started a family: by 1970 he had three children, two girls and a boy.
Despite the fact that my dad was older than most of the other dads during my upbringing (he was 40 when I was born), he was ahead of his time when it came to being a husband and father. My dad worked six days a week from the day he graduated from high school until his retirement at 67, yet he was always present; never missing a soccer or football game, Girl Scout event, holiday pageant, parent-teacher conference or birthday party. He was a "modern dad" at a time when many dads weren’t. As the mother of a three-year-old daughter, I see dads in the 21st century less involved in their children's lives than my dad was in the seventies.
Dad is now a very proud grandfather to eight and when he’s not busy volunteering, he spends much of his time doing activities with his grandchildren (and being the resident chauffeur to and from school, activities and outings.) He’s also an active volunteer at Abernathy Elementary in SE Portland where two of his grandchildren attend.
Which brings me to the reason why I think my dad is especially deserving of a little extra recognition – what he’s been doing with his time since retiring. While many men of his generation have looked at retirement as a means to travel the world or just sit tight in their recliner, my dad has spent the past 12 years as a devoted volunteer.
For 11 years, he has spent one day a week at Doernbecher’s Children Hospital where he oversees the bingo game for the children who are staying at the hospital. A few years ago, my husband and I were fortunate enough to spend an afternoon with my dad watching him in action at Doernbecher's and we both walked away from the experience with heavy hearts telling each other that there was no way we could endure the sadness of spending week after week with such sick children. It was a heartbreaking experience to us. But for my dad, it is a gift and he loves everything about Doernbecher's and looks forward to each Wednesday where, for a few hours, he gets to bring some joy to children who really need it.
My dad has also been a S.M.A.R.T. volunteer for 12 years and for much of that time, has worked exclusively at Marysville Elementary in SE Portland; one of the poorest schools in the district. Upon learning about the recent fire at Marysville, my dad was one of the first people to go out and buy new school supplies and backpacks for the kids. As a S.M.A.R.T. volunteer, dad works individually with kids who are having challenges with reading fundamentals. These are some of the most at-risk kids in our city and dad patiently spends individual time with them letting them work on their reading skills. Again, something that would be so difficult to do for many and something that brings such joy to my dad.
Dad’s also been a Meals on Wheels and Hospital volunteer and has devoted much time over his entire adult life volunteering in the Jewish community. It is not unusual to find my dad spending a weekday taking an elderly widowed friend to lunch or visiting with someone who is having a hard time living in a senior residence.
In the words of the fabulous, divine Ms. Tina Turner, my dad is simply the best; better than all the rest; better than anyone; anyone I’ve ever met.