Rotary Minutes: Ralph Rogers

It’s becoming clear that the five minutes that we established for the “Rotary Minutes” is not enough to summarize the lives and careers of some of our members. Even younger members like myself…I’m only 67…have found that limitation constraining.  For senior members like Ralph Rogers,  who is 20 years older, it should hardly get him through high school (Durham High, 1943), military service (the Big One, WW II) and college (Duke undergraduate and pharmacy school at Carolina.)

President Don has been reluctant to use the hook. Fortunately, I was saved from that embarrassment after I went well beyond that arbitrary limit and made it impossible for Don to try to rein in much more interesting and accomplished Rotarians than I, like Ralph.

Ralph’s professional career is notable enough. He took over the pharmacy that his father established in Durham at Mangum and Parrish Streets and ran it until the early 60’s when he sold it to go and found Mutual Drug Company, which for sixty years now has been providing services to independent pharmacies around the state.

However, one of the most fascinating things that Ralph reported on was the project he undertook in the late 50’s. As one of the organizers of an early effort to revitalize Downtown Durham he began documenting improvements with before and after pictures. One of my earliest memories of a Rotary presentation occurred in the late 80’s and was a slide show that Ralph put together of some of these photographs.

Another significant contribution to his home town was Ralph’s involvement in the establishment of mental health services in the community. However, the documentation of Downtown’s early transformation will likely cement his place in history. Fortunately, Ralph has collaborated with the folks at the Durham County Library to make the photographs available to the public along with his audio descriptions of what the pictures are showing.

Anybody interested in the history of Durham will find this indispensable. They are available here on the library’s website.

http://www.durhamcountylibrary.org/ncc/landscape/rr002.php

 

submitted by Jay Zenner

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