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M. Frank Rodgers
Melvyn Frank Rodgers was born in Torrington, Wyoming in the hot August summer of 1947, to Melvyn and Ruth (Hammond) Rodgers, joining several siblings and half siblings in his family. Melvyn Sr. worked as a John Deer tractor mechanic, and Frank remembered his family moving frequently around the West during his childhood, from Wyoming, to Colorado, Montana, Washington, Idaho and Oregon.
Frank left home at age 12 to live and work on Martha and Jack Brown’s dairy farm outside Emmett, Idaho, where he developed his lifelong sleep schedule of “early to bed, early to rise”– he had to milk cows every morning at 4am and every afternoon at 4pm, rain or shine, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Immediately after high school, Frank joined the Navy and served 2 tours of duty in the Vietnam War before his honorable discharge in 1970. (By 2023, Frank was one of only two remaining survivors in his unit.)
After returning from the war, Frank briefly flirted with a career as a barber, getting a barber certificate and cutting hair in a swanky Los Angeles salon for about a year. He then switched careers and started with the United States Postal Service, which would be his career until retirement.
After returning to Emmett with his three young daughters, Sharmon, Janelle, and Andrea (Lael wasn’t born until the 80s), Frank met Damiana Uberuaga. This was in the peak of the “back-to-the-land” homesteading movement of the 1970s, and in rural Eastern Oregon they found the perfect spot. When they bought their 13-acre parcel at the end of 10th Avenue W in Willow Creek, Oregon, it was nothing but sagebrush and a double-wide trailer. With a little bit of money, a lot of help from friends and neighbors,
and a LOT of sweat equity, Frank and Damiana transformed it into their own rural paradise they called “The Farm”, where they raised all kinds of hobby livestock, a garden, numerous cats and dogs, their three daughters, and raised a little bit of hell too.
Frank was not a particularly academic man, but had more street smarts than anyone, in a “Tom Sawyer getting someone else to whitewash the fence” sort of way. One Halloween after his cat had kittens, he put them in a paper bag and gave them away as trick-or-treat goodies, which no doubt was a thrill to the neighborhood children and a menace to their parents. He once “called in well” to work, and when his boss asked what that meant, he said, “it means that I feel so damn good, I just can’t come into work
today!” He said that at one of his many jobs in the early 70s, he carried around a clipboard and did nearly nothing for an entire year before someone finally caught on and asked him what his job was. (Frank also loved to tell tall tales, but we can no longer hold that against him.)
Frank was always surrounded by animals, and much to the chagrin of his family, pretty much let them do what they wanted. The wooden deck was damaged more than once by free-roaming horses climbing onto the steps to get a treat, and the front yard was often littered with raw bones from the butcher because “they gave them to me for free and the dogs love them.” Frank is preceded in death by Buffy, Duke, Thor I and II, Beauty, Waukena Shadowfax, Spirit, Chinook, Señor Puppy, Pancho, Don’t Know,
Cheech, Chong, Doobie, Roach, Mocha, Fudge, Sonny, Cher, Hiker, Tit, Smiley, and dozens of cows, chickens, turkeys, ducks, cats, dogs, horses, rabbits, guinea hens and goldfish that he cared for over the years.
With the exception of one haircut around 1989 that sent toddler Lael running and screaming because she didn’t recognize her papa, Frank was a long-haired hippie for the last 40 of his 75 years of life (and probably would have grown it out in the Navy if they had allowed that sort of thing.) He loved to put his hair in braided pigtails with a bandanna headband and was absolutely delighted when strangers on the street told him he looked just like Willie Nelson.
In 1993, after working mostly for the Federal government since age 17, Frank retired from the US Postal Service at age 45 and moved back to The Farm. His youngest daughter Lael was only 5 years old when he retired and has a lifetime of fond memories spending school holidays and summers at The Farm riding horses, taking care of animals, and watching The Price is Right every morning and Jeopardy every
night with her dad. He had 30 glorious years of retirement, which is more than most of us will ever get.
When he passed on in the early hours of March 26, 2023, from complications from an infection and pneumonia, Frank had squeezed every drop of living out of life. We don’t want to put words in Frank’s mouth, but we think he’d agree with Hunter S. Thompson here:
“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow, what a ride!’”
Frank is survived by his daughters Sharmon Rodgers, Janelle Allen (Mike), Andrea Davy (Walt), and Lael Uberuaga-Rodgers (Josh Williams); grandchildren Rachel Anderson, Tyke Chace, Derek Davy, Walter Davy, Tyler Zuieback, Laurel Zuieback, and Brenna Rodgers; great-grandchildren Vincent, Terra, and Luna Anderson.
There will be a celebration of life later this summer at Frank’s final home and favorite place, “The Farm'' in Willowcreek, OR. Date and details to be announced by the family.
In lieu of flowers, we know Frank would love if friends could plant a tree in his honor, donate to Radio Boise (his favorite local community radio station that was played 24/7 in his house), or honor him by rocking out to Willie Nelson, Janis Joplin, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Cat Stevens, or John Prine