The Poetry Question

Discovering the Relevance of Words

Tonight, We Raise a Tall Glass, Tell Tall Tales, and Talk of Dirty, Dirty Things, in Honor of a Great Man

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When we look back upon our schooling, we don’t often remember specific lessons, or assignments, or even papers we wrote. We might be able to recall a few novels, maybe some graffiti we left in a bathroom, or the time when we got pantsed in the hallway, or laughed at in gym class, but we do remember our favorite teachers. We remember the people who made an immediate impact on us, or who years after hating, we realized that they taught us everything we needed to know about x, y, and z. They were our mentor, our advisor, our oracle, and our leader, but made sure we knew they weren’t our friend. They were tough when needed, kind when warranted, and always there to answer life’s great questions.

I don’t know if my favorite teachers are alive or dead. In fact, I haven’t tried to find any of them in more than a decade. Most of my teachers were in their early 30’s – 40’s when I had them, and I never stopped to think about a time when they wouldn’t be there anymore. Unfortunately, my students will come face to face with that exact thought when they walk through the doors of Evergreen High School tomorrow, and find out that Doug Rogers has passed away.

Mr. Rogers has taught metal tech and shop classes at Evergreen since 1988, and was the most sarcastic, dirty, and matter-of-fact curmudgeon that one could ever meet. Known for sending out his weekly dirty-joke emails – for which anyone else would have been immediately fired – he made you feel like his best friend. He flirted with all the female staff members, poked fun at every student, and made sure that if you were of age, that at some point you shared in a bottle of scotch or a beer from the kegerator in his garage.

Doug was one of the first people I ever met when I joined the Evergreen staff 9 years ago. He immediately offered to take me out for a drink and tell me all the dirty secrets about the school, and everyone who worked there. I’ve received at least a call a week to my classroom phone – typically during class – to ask how to “get these little fuckers in line” or “how do we teach these little shits to read a god damn manual.” He made jokes at every meeting, asked all the pointed questions, and was never afraid to disagree with administration about how the school was being run. He was a fiery little man, who made his presence known in the largest of ways.

Tonight, we raise a tall glass, tell tall tales, and talk of dirty, dirty things, in honor of a great man, because he would have it no other way.  Doug Rogers was a legend at Evergreen High School, and he will be forever missed.

About Christopher Margolin

Chris Margolin spent more than a decade in Education as a high school English teacher, and is now an Instructional Coach for the Longview School District. He is also the founder of The Poetry Question, an online journal which focuses on reviews of small press poetry publications, and runs a regular series called "The Power of Poetry," where notable poets share their personal stories of how poetry has affected their lives. Margolin resides in Vancouver, Washington with his wife, and daughter.

36 comments on “Tonight, We Raise a Tall Glass, Tell Tall Tales, and Talk of Dirty, Dirty Things, in Honor of a Great Man

  1. Erin Secrist
    June 11, 2013

    This is such a great tribute. Well-said, Chris.

  2. Marie Lockwood
    June 11, 2013

    Chris, you have truly portrayed just the way Doug was for all the years that I have known him. Thank you for making me smile and cry at the same time.

    • Christopher Margolin
      June 11, 2013

      You’re welcome! He was a wonderfully cantankerous bundle of joy.

    • Cindy Taylor
      June 12, 2013

      I’m heart-broken……he’s irreplaceable……

  3. Luana Nery
    June 11, 2013

    My son, Kai Nery, learned many things from Mr. Rogers and will forever have him in his heart. He will be missed.

  4. Nancy R Burris
    June 11, 2013

    thanks Chris you said it well. The man was amazing and EHS is better for having him in our halls and our hearts.

  5. Izabella
    June 11, 2013

    Beautifully written. We were very lucky to know him- he will be greatly missed.

  6. Dylan Silva
    June 11, 2013

    He was my favorite teacher (no offense mr margolin) and i will always remember him. It’s sad how things happen i told him i would see him next week… but i guess it didn’t turn out that way…

  7. Stacy Wooldridge
    June 11, 2013

    I loved this..

  8. eric smith
    June 12, 2013

    ill always remember that a cold mcdonalds cheeseburger could get me out of trouble in his class . he was an awesome teacher a funny man and a great human being .. you will be greatly missed by many..E.S .class 98

  9. Joe Van Tassell
    June 12, 2013

    I’m glad I had the privilege to walk into his classroom and learn from one of the best. Enjoy your time off, you cranky old bastard.

  10. Karen Harris
    June 12, 2013

    Our security office was located next to his classroom and he was always coming in to grab some red licorice that I kept on my desk – he could never leave without telling one of his famous jokes. He was one of a kind and is a definite loss to the school.

  11. Zada
    June 12, 2013

    Very nice!

  12. Scott Wistrand
    June 12, 2013

    Doug was the first person I met here at EHS as well, and immediatley made me feel welcomed, with the qualification of “as long as you do it my way!”.

    I am reminded of a quote by Charles Dickens:

    “Life is made of ever so many partings welded together”

    I’ll miss you Doug

  13. Mike Staton
    June 12, 2013

    A tremendous tribute to a truly great “educator”. Very well done Chris.

  14. Greg Berry
    June 12, 2013

    Well said! A very good tribute to a good man and a great friend.
    Greg Berry

  15. Bob Dean
    June 12, 2013

    Isn’t it just like Doug to make a final statement by checking out without permission. He always came up with the unexpected so why would we be surprised when he left us without a notice or a whimper. It hurts to the core to see him gone but I can still see him walking down these halls in his hunched over manner…….calling me over to whisper some off color words of wisdom that seemed to sum up whatever situation was the talk of the moment. His humor seemed to take the sting out of whatever pain we were enduring. His devilish grin and sly look around before he let loose with one of his op-ed indictments will forever be etched in my memory. Doug will be missed….. but,……. he will never be forgotten.

  16. Kevin Kernen
    June 12, 2013

    A great man and friend. A master educator and joke teller.
    Gone but not forgotten, a soft star burning in the night.
    I will miss Doug “The Head”
    Kevin Kernen

  17. Peggy Leifheit
    June 12, 2013

    It did not take me long to discover that inside that rough-around-the-edge exterior there was a big-hearted softy. He made me promise not to tell anyone, said it would ruin his reputation! ……..He will truly be missed.

  18. John Bredstrand
    June 12, 2013

    Thanks Chris, Doug would appreciate your words. I spent 25 years with Doug, mostly next door. We shared a lot over that much time. We joked, we bitched, and we shared our views on life. Doug is someone that would do anything for you and for whom you would be happy to do anything for. He brought a lot of joy to my work and my life. He’ll be missed and remembered. He left me with enough “Doug stories” to last a lifetime.
    Adios Crap Weasel

    • Christopher Margolin
      June 12, 2013

      This response has me laughing in my room. Thank you so much for the “Adios Crap Weasel” ending. He was such an amazing person, and I can tell from my students’ responses that he got to each and every one of them.

  19. Marshall Pendleton
    June 12, 2013

    Doug will be missed.

  20. Amber
    June 12, 2013

    Mr. Rogers was my Mr. Holland. That is not intended as a cliché, but an accurate moniker of the role he played in my life. He held me accountable and told me the value he saw in me when all I could do was act like a stupid teenager. He showed me girls can do technology, instilled in me an appreciation for inappropriate humor and became the positive male role model I needed and didn’t have. As I grew into an adult, got married, and had kids our relationship changed to one of friendship and deeper respect. I am proud to call him friend, feel even luckier to have him call me friend, and will miss him an immeasurable amount.

  21. Casey
    June 12, 2013

    He will be greatly missed! I miss his replies to all things e-mail…

  22. Jordan Robertson
    June 12, 2013

    Well said Chris. I don’t think I could ever say enough, or thank him enough for everything that he did for me while I was there, and even afterwards.

    To give credit where credit is due:
    There is no way I could have made it to where I am today without his constant help, support and guidance throughout the years.

    I believe his story will be echoed throughout the halls of Evergreen and haunt the
    cold emptiness wherein he used to dwell.
    I doubt that any man can fill his shoes.
    Here’s to raising one to Doug Rogers:
    The man, the myth, the legend. ‘Till we meet again old friend..

  23. Kimm Roberts
    June 12, 2013

    I’ll miss sharing the room next door to him, always knocking politely before entering our connecting door (God help you if you didn’t), worrying about him when his lights were not on by the time I arrived at school, and getting bitched at when I told him, “I just worry about you Dougie”. But he always was there, always whispered obnoxious/funny things to me as I was cutting through his room, always had time to tell me a story, always listened to mine, and always had chocolates for me. I will greatyly miss the “always” times.

    • Ronda
      June 12, 2013

      Last year Doug told me that after they “fixed” that door it sounded like the cock of a gun, and it startled him. After that I always knocked.

  24. Mikki
    June 12, 2013

    If my office phone rang and as I answered the voice on the other end said, “Four Score and…” or “Ask not what your country…” or “One small step for man…” I knew it was Doug Rogers. He would then say,”You are the speech teacher, right?” He would call to tell me about one of my students doing something wonderful with his articulation or fluency or language within his classroom and ask questions about how to support him/her for the next goal.
    As I listen to many others around the building tell their own Doug stories, I am reminded of what it means to be part of a community. Sometimes it means to stop and listen and to look someone in the eye and say that it matters that you are here. Doug reminded us all that we mattered. The stories are fun, sweet, spicy and real. I will miss you, Doug.

  25. Cindy
    June 12, 2013

    Everything happens for a reason….my path crossed Doug’s for more than one. He made me laugh til I cried, blushed (which doesn’t happen often) listened to me whenever I needed someone to talk with….and would truly listen. I will never forget him and the impact he had on my life and so many others.
    My home emails will never be the same…….miss you so much Doug.

  26. Mary Suhama
    June 12, 2013

    Mr. Rogers made an impact on my oldest son, he even gave him a nickname (sparky). I had several conversation with Doug and I could tell he sincerely cared about my son and his future! I was truley shocked and so saddened when my son told me the news yesterday!!! I am also saddened by the fact that my youngest son who will be a sophomore this coming year will never get to meet or attend any classes of this awesome one of a kind teachers and man. He truley will be missed. R.I.P.

  27. Elizabeth Federspiel
    June 12, 2013

    Mr. Rogers was a great man and will be missed by many people, he taught my father and my uncles, and also my husband. I never had him as a teacher but we would skip or go hang out in his class any time we had just to listen to his funny stories and just talk, my husband is now a marine when he was able to come home we went and visited him after we got married in October 2013, one thing I remember from that visit was him saying to my husband to “take good care of me because girls like me are not easy to come by” and he said to me “take care of this marine don’t let him get in to much trouble” he will truly be missed. RIP

  28. Kristen Brown
    June 12, 2013

    One fine afternoon I was spending my lunch drilling some holes in the metal shop, trying to get a project completed. I was using a 1/2″ bit in a 2 handed drill. I was making a horrible amount of noise. About 20 minutes into the break, Doug comes walking out into the shop and asks what the hell all the noise is about. He watches for about 2 seconds and blurts out “You’ve got the damn thing in reverse!” He said I deserved a PE credit (knowing how much I hated PE) for all the effort I put into this thing. He told that story to *everyone* I knew from then on out. Just a couple months ago, A couple co-workers came back to Boeing after giving a presentation on Boeing’s Tech Prep program (which Mr. Rogers helped me apply for 9 years ago) laughing about how I had drilled those holes in reverse. Thanks for everything Doug. I will miss you greatly.

  29. Cindy Taylor
    June 12, 2013

    Well-spoken Chris…..Both of my sons, who graduated from EHS, called me today to inform me of Doug’s passing and I’m glad that they were the first I talked with, as I had not heard about Doug until they called. Gabe and Adam knew that I had a great deal of respect for this man who made me laugh and cringe at the same moment — his humor sustained me many days out in 821 “negotiating” with my students in The Study Hall. He was an unbeknownst mentor to me when I came to Evergreen in regards of how to be tough but also fair with students who didn’t always make the best choices. He would call me in 821 and make reservations for his students, saying, “I’d like to reserve space for two, with a view”. Heaven needed a “really good” metal guy…..so his shoulder was tapped…….and he went……

  30. Linda Brake
    June 13, 2013

    I was the librarian at EHS for many years and Doug was one of my favorite people on staff. I rafted the Deschutes and Clackamas Rivers with him and another female teacher and I went to the Prom with him in 1989. He was one of a kind!

  31. Denny Waters
    June 13, 2013

    Thank you Chris. Made me laugh and made me cry…a perfect tribute to a great teacher and a wonderful man. Here’s to you Doug Rogers!

  32. Ginelle
    June 17, 2013

    Mr Rogers was my teacher, mentor and a father figure in my life who made a world of difference for me. He is most definitely missed and has a HUGE part of my heart. He always knew had to make people smile with his jokes especially on the days we needed most. If it wasn’t for him graduating for me would have been more of task. I am blessed an lucky to say after graduating we kept in touch he was there when my son was born and I was there when he had his first heart attack to help take care of him :)Doug, Mr R, my dad #2.. You are missed dearly!!! I love you and will see you some day..

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