WAHPETON, N.D. - Gary Rogers, an area radio sports and news announcer with 53 years of experience and more than 5,000 games under his belt, was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer last week. The 72-year-old was given a couple weeks to live, according to longtime friend Brett Lambrecht.
Reflecting on a four-decade-long career, Rogers said: "It was all good. Seriously, everything was good up until the past few weeks."
Lambrecht said Rogers is well known around Wahpeton and the southern Red River Valley as a passionate man and outstanding announcer.
"He was always the one you turned on your radio to listen to," Lambrecht said.
Rogers announced his first game in 1964. In 1968, he began what would become a 40-year career of announcing news and local sports at KBMW-AM, a radio station serving the area of Wahpeton and Breckenridge, Minn.
"Before a game, he would always make a comment that he knew your kids," Lambrecht said. "If you were No. 12, he knew your name. He had points, rebounds ... everything in the program memorized."
Lane Wateland, who worked with Rogers for 25 years as a firefighter, agreed that Rogers has an abundant knowledge of local sports.
"You can ask him what's (a player's) name, and he'll tell you the team's name, colors, if they've won a state championship," Wateland said. "Probably one of the best sports announcers I've ever heard."
Rogers credits his success to the coaches and athletes he covered.
"It's what the players and coaches make it. They make your life easier," Rogers said.
He had planned to continue announcing sports this fall, but canceled those plans this week, Rogers said. His career brought him around the Unites States, and since his diagnosis, he's heard from many current and former coaches, and athletes from Wyoming to New York, wishing him the best.
"I guess because of my reputation," Rogers said. "I just treated everyone equal. Did the ball game, did the story and summary, and sent it off."
Wateland said despite the dire prognosis, Rogers has kept his same good sense of humor, adding that when he spoke with Rogers on the phone earlier this week, he was "still giving me the grief like normal."
Rogers, who was a volunteer firefighter for 38 years, will be honored during a fire-truck procession at 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 7, in Wahpeton.
Wateland said the department wants to give Rogers his final ride to recognize the positive impact he's had on the community.
"He's going to leave a big hole in the community whenever he goes," Wateland said.