A fitting farewell
Marian Rogers traveled more than 120 miles from Hamilton, Texas, to Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery on Friday, Oct. 18, for one final salute to her husband, U.S. Navy Seaman Paul Rogers.
It was a farewell she almost missed.
Paul Rogers, a Korean War veteran, willed his body to science through Texas A&M College of Dentistry’s Anatomical Gift Program. After his death three years ago, his body was used to provide anatomy instruction for dental students.
Rogers, U.S. Air Force Sgt. Cameron Scott and U.S. Army Spc. 3 Lawrence Stout – all part of the college’s willed body program – were identified as military veterans through the Missing in America Project with the help of Charlie Fulton, anatomical laboratory assistant in biomedical sciences at the dental school. Arrangements were then made for the three to be interred at the national cemetery with a full military memorial service.
Invitations were sent to notify the families. And that’s when a snag arose for Rogers’ family. The invitation was addressed to his daughter, Sue, who died earlier this year.
“I was going through my daughter’s things and opening her mail to finalize things after she passed,” Marian Rogers said. “I opened this general invitation and after I read it, I jumped on the phone and started calling. I wouldn’t have missed this for anything in the world.”
She was joined by her son, Jim Rogers, and great-grandson Aaron Rogers, along with about 30 family and friends for the memorial service. Even a few people who read about the service on the college’s social media accounts showed up to pay their respects.
Jim Rogers, who still has his dad’s military identification card from the 1950s, described his father as a very good man.
“It’s such an honor,” he said. “This is the final resting place for some of the greatest people in America.”
Faculty, staff and students of the College of Dentistry also attended the service for the three veterans, whose cremated remains were escorted by the Patriot Guard Riders and Missing in America Escorts.
Courtney Favaloro, second-year dental student, said the service reinforced her gratitude.
“When you’re in the anatomy lab, it can be so easy to forget that this is a human who led a long, full life and had loved ones,” she said. “It also exemplified just how giving each of the three men were; not only did they spend their lives serving our country, but they also continued to serve others after they passed away by donating their bodies just so that we could be the most educated doctors possible.
“It had a huge impact on me, and I am extremely grateful to have been able to pay my respects to these three men and thank them for all that they did for us.”
For more information about the Anatomical Gift Program, please contact the college’s Department of Biomedical Sciences at 214.828.8270.