Utica Area News
Mary Collins Landin
I found no Utica Area obituaries or earthshaking Utica News this past week, so I thought I would pass on some other tales from MSU, preceding it with the following obituary. Frank Young Rogers, Sr., a resident of Brandon, died on June 25, 2022, at age 82. He was born on June 21, 1940, to William Watkins Rogers, Jr. and Elizabeth Young Rogers. He grew up in Sessums, MS, in Oktibbeha County. Born on the summer solstice, he claimed he had the longest birthday of anyone, and was always telling stories and Frank graduated from Starkville High School in 1958, from Mississippi State University with a degree in dairy science in 1962, and from Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1969. After graduating from MSU, he said he never wanted to milk another cow! His parents were dairy farmers.
Frank first married MSU majorette Frances Overby, spent two years in the Army, and was stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, where his first son, Frank Jr., was born. His second son, William, but known to all as “Brother,” was born while Frank Sr. was in vet school at Auburn. Frank practiced veterinary medicine in Eupora, MS, before relocating to the Jackson area, where he became the assistant state veterinarian and later, state veterinarian. His biggest professional accomplishment was leading the effort to eradicate brucellosis in livestock in Mississippi. He joined the Mississippi Air National Guard and eventually retired as a lieutenant colonel. At various times, he was a Rotarian and a Mason, a Baptist and a Presbyterian, but perhaps his most faithful attendance was at deer camp, where he rarely used a gun, but often entertained others with his humorous stories and observations.
In 1985, Frank second married Wilna Rigby Stewart, and they have remained inseparable ever since. Together they traveled annually to the Neshoba County Fair, and sometimes overseas (often on a military plane at almost no expense, of course). Late in life, on many occasions, he and Wilna would discover their meal at a restaurant had been paid already by an anonymous person. When asked who paid for his meal, he would reply, “I don’t ask. I just say thank you.” He subscribed to satellite radio to get one channel, Willie’s Roadhouse, which was always on in his vehicle. Frank was predeceased by his parents and his sister Betty Rogers Hallmark. In addition to his 2 sons and Wilna and her 4 children, Frank is survived by his brother, William Watkins Rogers III of Starkville, grandchildren Lauren Hill (Max) of Alexandria, VA, Alex Rogers (Jordan) of Colorado Springs, CO, Andrew Rogers of Williamsburg, VA, and Zack Vosen (Hilary) of Jackson, MS. Services were held at Lakeside Presbyterian Church, 2070 Spillway Road in Brandon, on Tuesday, June 28.
I have my own Frank Rogers stories to tell from our MSU undergraduate days. A lot of you who went to MSU remember Frank, and his cutting up. We shared several classes, and in the summer of 1960, we were both enrolled in speech class, a mandatory class for biological sciences of all sorts. We each had to write and give speeches in front of class. I had already done mine, but Frank had not. The day he was to do his, Frank wore the style of the summer, Bermuda shorts. We had an open podium that we made speeches from, and Frank went up to give his speech. A few minutes into his speech, we heard knocking noises. It was Frank’s knees, knocking so loud in those shorts we could hear them all over the room! To make matters more embarrassing, our professor called a halt to his speech while he assessed Frank’s knee knocking. That was over 60 years ago, and I never forgot it. I remember that Frank also passed speech.
Another Frank story was in Dr. Baer’s organic chemistry class, in which if he caught you cheating, you got a zero and kicked out. Frank had cheat sheets written all over his hands, and in those days, students were allowed to smoke in class. Frank pulled out cigarette and lighter during our test, and proceeded to light it with a lighter that played DIXIE when opened. Dr. Baer walked over to see what the commotion was (we all knew about Frank’s cheat sheet), glanced at Frank and never saw a thing. Whether he really didn’t, we will never know, but he might not have wanted to deal with Frank’s cheating on that particular day, and looked the other way.
In Dr. Thomas’ genetics class, he announced on the first day of class, that if he caught you cheating in class, he would give you a zero, and since that was a mandatory class, he said if you re-enrolled, he would give you an F before you even walked in the door. Dr. Thomas never caught Frank, but he did the same in genetics class as he had in organic chemistry. Maybe it was because he was a hometown Starkville boy, who knows?, but Dr. Thomas never caught him. After Frank got out of the regular U.S military, I ran into him occasionally, and he joked and bragged about his cheating his way through the “tough” classes. It somehow seems appropriate to include his obit for our fellow MSU classmates, as well as some of his stories. I will let you know if his widow sues me for passing on Frank stories he told on his own self! All of the people named here and now deceased except for Frank’s wives.
We around Utica think we have good stories to tell about our 1-12 grades at Utica, and the before and after, but I have just as many stories I could tell about MSU, MC, HCC, Clemson U., and TAMU where I taught a graduate class in the civil engineering school. My brothers and I attended MSU with so many Utica Area men, we used to pass them back and forth among us! I was the only Utica woman at MSU as an undergraduate, and only of a couple hundred women in undergraduate days. With change of administration in 1961, the numbers of women increased at MSU when I was in grad school.
I thought I would bring you up to date on coronavirus cases in Mississippi. Over the entire state, we have had 887,134 cases, with 12,701 dead as of August 6th. Contrast that to Alabama alone; it has had 2, 903,080 doses of vaccine given out. Tennessee, Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas have much higher numbers than Mississippi.
Community Vacation Bible School was held July 17-21, at the Utica Christian Church. Their theme word this year was “Monumental”, to study the greatness of God and his vast love for Earth and its people. It was intended for children in the 4-6th grades. It was well attended but I have not heard final numbers.
Samaritan’s Purse collections are being sorted for items and money to help our Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, both financially and materially. Over 2,000 shoe boxes have already been packed and are ready to go. Money from the mission garage sales October 3 through 8 will go towards postage needed to ship boxes to Third World countries who are not already Christian. Rev Franklin Graham wrote a letter to Utica’s workers to thank them for past years’ efforts and to encourage them to continue.
Utica has already packed more than 4 boxes for each person in the Utica Area, and more than 200 boxes per person working on the effort. If you don’t have any items you are sorted out of your closet or shed or house to donate for the sale, send a check towards the effort made out to Utica Baptist Church, POB 205, Utica MS 39175. It is amazing how much love and effort has gone into the Utica Samaritan’s Purse workers, donors, sellers, buyers, and givers to make this possible!
I let August birthdays slip up on me. Here are a few. If you look at the Utica Facebook page, you will be astounded at the birthdays and anniversaries that are being posted. August 1, Michael Hickey, Aug 2, B. Ross; Aug 4, Debbie Ellis Strong; Aug 5, John Barry and Dianne Sanders; Aug 6, Landin Mattson; Aug 10, Rainey Morgan; Aug 11, Travis Strong; Aug 12, Jeannette Adair; Aug 13, Lee Andress, Angela Fisher Sills, and Jayne Dodson Tillman; Aug 16; Hutch Adair; Aug 17, Bill Cessna; Aug 18, Carla Broome; Aug 19, Sarah Hickey, Doug Womack, and Beth Yates; Aug 20, Darlene Cranfield Hopper and Dane Newman; Aug 21, Ginger Lee; Aug 22, Kirsten Fisher Blair; Aug 23, J3ffrey Cooper; Aug 24, Faye Huskey; Aug 28, Vicki Fisher and Tom Landin; Aug 31, Kathleen Billiot, Ollie Mitchell, and Coach Karon Walker.
Come shop in Utica! Stores are open for the first time in a long time on Main and Depot Streets. And mark your calendars for BIG SALE, October 4-8th, Utica Baptist Family Life Center.
I am still battling shingles, and I am using that as an excuse to cut my article short this week. Until next week, send me your news! I don’t want to be guilty of filling it up with personal and frivolous things. You all have jobs, vacations, and a lot of other activities to report on.
School started this week for many schools. My great great twin nieces Rylee and McKayla Wightman started first grade this week in Rankin County, and they are very excited! My own great grandson Brooks Travis Landin is starting to K3 in Alabama! Hard to believe, and he is excited! He has also grown six inches since Spring (going to b a big kid). High school kids graduated and started college last week in both Alabama and MS, like April Skipworth in Vicksburg! And returning, like Sarah Kerr from Utica!