Dr. John Patrick Rogers

March 20, 1924September 14, 2019

Dr. John Patrick Rogers, 95, died at his home in Columbia, MD, on September 14, 2019. John was born to Robert Lewis Rogers and Marion Elizabeth Higgins Rogers in Boston, MA, on March 20, 1924. He graduated from Beverly High School, Beverly, MA, in 1942.

He served in the U.S. Army during World War II from 1943 to 1945 as an anti-aircraft gunner in the 486th AAA Battalion, Battery A, attached to the 3rd Armored Division. They landed on Omaha Beach on June 23, 1944, and fought in France, Belgium, and Germany. He was awarded the Bronze Star.

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Botany from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, in 1950, and a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO, in 1962.

He married Sarah Ann Joyner on December 30, 1959 at the Society of Friends (Quakers) Meeting House in Azalia, IN, and for a few years thereafter the couple split their time between Columbia, MO and the Delta Waterfowl Research Station in Erickson, Manitoba, where John was completing field work for his doctoral dissertation.

His professional career was in wildlife conservation, and he was widely regarded as an expert in migratory birds. From 1951 to 1955 he worked for the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Game, where he studied the ecology of the wood duck and subsequently co-authored a book about this species in the state. He left Massachusetts for graduate school, and after completing his Ph.D., he became an Assistant Professor with the University of Missouri and Director of the Gaylord Memorial Wildlife Laboratory in Puxico, MO, from 1961 to 1966. He began his career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a staff specialist in wetland ecology in Washington, DC, in 1966. In 1968, he became Assistant Director of the Migratory Bird Population Station in Laurel, MD. In 1972 he became the first Chief of the Office of Migratory Bird Management, back in Washington, D.C., a position he held until 1984. During that time, he led efforts to strengthen cooperative relationships with the Flyway Councils, introduce the non-toxic shot program for waterfowl hunting, develop a North American Waterfowl Management Plan, and prepare a major environmental review of the annual sport hunting of migratory birds. He actively participated in the development of a bilateral migratory bird treaty with the Soviet Union and in the subsequent development of a protocol to amend the migratory bird treaty with Canada. He was a major participant in the conduct of international wildlife management programs with Canada and Mexico, including cooperative efforts to survey migratory bird populations in North America. In 1984, he joined the FWS regional office in Anchorage, Alaska. He served as the Assistant Regional Director for Refuges and Wildlife until his retirement in 1992, providing critical leadership in the management of 77 million acres of National Wildlife Refuges for the ongoing benefit of wildlife resources that used these lands and waters each year. He was the key architect of the important Yukon-Kuskokwim Goose Management Plan that brought Alaska Natives and sport hunters together to conserve dwindling and important goose populations.

Throughout his career, he was recognized for a unique ability to achieve consensus among people with differing views and agendas. He was a valued mentor and a role model for many leaders that followed him in the wildlife conservation field.

He was elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1971. In 1981, he was awarded the U.S. Department of Interior’s highest citation, the Distinguished Service Award. He was the recipient of a Ducks Unlimited Wetland Conservation Achievement Award in 1992.

Throughout his life, he was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed being immersed in the natural world in the companionship of family, friends, and colleagues. He enjoyed cross country skiing, and was a competitive skeet shooter, even during bitterly cold Alaska winters, and he travelled frequently to participate in competitive meets. He was truly at home in Alaska, not only because of its vast natural treasures, but also its unique people, fascinating history and culture.

After retirement, he combined two of his abiding interests, nature and art, and developed into an accomplished artist. For the last two decades of his life he produced a wide variety of drawings, paintings, and sculptures, many strongly influenced by his love of the natural world. In 2002, he was one of five judges responsible for selecting the winner of the Federal Duck Stamp art competition in Washington, DC.

In 2005, after 20 years of adventures in Alaska, John and his late wife, Sarah, relocated to Maryland.

He had wide ranging interests, which included gardening, sports, art, performing arts, and music. He made many lasting friendships from all walks of life. He found immense joy spending time with his family, and especially his three grandchildren. He was proud of his Irish roots and never lost his enthusiasm for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day.

He is survived by his two sons, Robert Cebren and his wife Patricia Louise Rice of Laurel, MD; and Michael John and his wife Margaret Yao-Mei Peng of Silver Spring, MD; his niece Maureen Mary Palmer Archer and her husband Kerry Russell Archer; and his three beloved grandchildren, Matthew Zen-Kong Rogers, John Zen-Jie Rogers, and Sophia Zen-Mei Rogers. He was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Sarah Ann Joyner Rogers of Laurel, MD; his father, Robert Lewis Rogers; his mother, Marion Elizabeth Higgins Rogers; and his sister Mary Elizabeth Rogers Palmer. A celebration of John’s life will be held at 1pm on Saturday, Oct 19, 2019, at the Sandy Spring Museum, 17901 Bentley Road, Sandy Spring, MD.

Memorial donations may be made to The Nature Conservancy, 4245 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 100, Arlington, VA 22203-1606, (800-628-6860,; or Ducks Unlimited, Inc., One Waterfowl Way, Memphis, TN 38120, (800-453-8257,


  • Robert Cebren Rogers (Patricia Louise Rice), Son
  • Michael John Rogers (Margaret Yao-Mei Peng), Son
  • Maureen Mary Palmer Archer (Kenny Russell Archer), Niece
  • Grandchildren ~ Matthew Zen-Kong Rogers, John Zen-Jie Rogers, and Sophia Zen-Mei Rogers


  • A Life Celebration Service Saturday, October 19, 2019


Dr. John Patrick Rogers

have a memory or condolence to add?

Lynn Greenwalt

October 4, 2019

I first met John when I was assigned to the Washington office of the Fish and Wildlife Service. This was about the same time John became the chief of migratory bird management. Shortly after this I was named Director of the Service and began the pleasure of working closely with John, who was a key scientist and assistant whenever migratory bird issues were involved. We traveled together often and attended countless meetings together. He was a principal source of information at meetings and in helping present technical testimony to Congress and the public. He was widely respected by his colleagues and peers in the scientific community and his opinions and suggestions well received. I enjoyed his company. His good humor, communications skills, intelligence, modest demeanor, and wide-ranging interests made him a valued companion. John's solid professionalism, and management skills were an inspiration to all who knew him. John went on to other positions of responsibility in the Service, and I will always feel that he made an unusually effective and lasting impact on the Service's mission of conservation of resources. I am fortunate to have known him and to have him as my friend. This Nation is fortunate to have him in its service as a soldier, a civil servant, and a citizen.

Jerry Longcore

September 24, 2019

I send my condolences to John's family. I worked with John during the "steel shot" implementing days while I worked as a Staff Specialist in the Wildlife Division, USFWS in Washington, D.C. In his soft-spoken manner John was instrumental in dealing with the ammunition companies that tried to undermine the Patuxent shooting test with steel shot that Ralph Andrews and I completed in 1969. I remember one morning when John stopped by my house in Laurel, MD to pick me up for a meeting with the Secretary of the Interior on the issue. I was on a pain killer for back pain and I fell over on the floor and John helped pick me up! He was a great colleague and friend and steward of our migratory bird resources.

Tom Rothe

September 23, 2019

Dear Michael:

Please relay my condolences to your family. As Alaska state waterfowl coordinator, I had a special advantage of learning about the history of North American waterfowl management from your father and Dick Pospahala. It gave me a healthy perspective about the importance of cooperation between USFWS and the states, in contrast to more than occasional conflicts. I also had a special appreciation for some of the critical challenges your dad faced in guiding FWS through the nontoxic shot wars, amendments to the US-Canada bird treaty and strengthening the exceptional waterfowl survey and harvest management programs. We had some very interesting trips to western Alaska villages negotiating goose conservation measures with the local Yup’ik villagers. With his white hair, John was graciously treated as an esteemed elder, as well as the FWS leader. I hope the FWS records and appreciates the legacy John left in the Migratory Bird Management Program.

On the personal side, John and Dick got me into skeet shooting—so we would shoot Sundays in the blowing snow to compete in our league. Those Sunday sessions of shooting, stories and a bit of business were very special. There are still a couple of super senior shooters at the club that remember John and his famous Rem 3200.

In his mellow years just after retirement I discovered John’s artistic talents—excellent painting and his budding sculpture.

I will have fond memories of John and would be pleased to contribute to any scholarship or conservation commemorative. Peace be with you and the First Chief of Birds.

Tom Rothe
11828 Broadwater Drive
Eagle River, AK 99577