No one lives forever, but it really sucks when someone with a great deal to offer leaves this world much too soon. For many of us, life changed when the world lost Wendi Rogers. However, while we grieve, we can also remember the good times and the smiles.
Depending upon your relationship with her, Wendi Rogers was a great wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend and co-worker. I first became aware of Wendi when, in the mid 90’s I read about her in a paralegal association newsletter. A year or so later, I began attending paralegal association meetings in the area. At my first meeting, Wendi was there. We met, and quickly became friends.
Wendi was as passionate about her career as she was about life. and always eager to get everyone else involved, too. The running joke in area paralegal circles was “when Wendi Rogers calls you, hangup.” At various times, through gentle encouragement, Wendi had me volunteering for our local paralegal association, our national association, working for the same lawyer she worked for, studying for a state board certification, playing softball, riding mountain bikes, writing and presenting professional education materials, working with her a second time, and repeatedly riding her favorite roller coasters.
We shared countless good times together. Her family would get tickets to Six Flags on days reserved for certain companies, and she would invite me to go along. Once, she talked me into riding the Texas Giant (a GIANT roller coaster) over and over until we couldn’t see straight.
We took many trips together to promote our profession. Once, we went to a bar in Charleston, and ultimately realized that we didn’t have a ride back to our hotel. Somehow, Wendi persuaded a police officer to give us a ride, but we had to sit in the back of the car. I don’t know why it was funny, but we giggled all the way back to the hotel. On another trip, after eating Mexican food and drinking margaritas, we stayed up until 4:00 a.m. watching forensic shows, even though we were sick from the food, and had to get up very early.
One of my favorite memories of Wendi involved mountain biking. We lived in adjacent cities, and I had begun to train for a duathlon. I bought a cheap road bike, and she had a mountain bike. Periodically, we would meet each other halfway, ride around together for a while, and then head to our respective homes, exhausted. Wendi never complained about riding a mountain bike, which, on the street, is much more difficult to ride than a road bike. However, one day she suggested I borrow her husband’s mountain bike, and we hit the trails at Lake Grapevine. Wendi promised the ride would be easy, and that I would be fine. At the end of the ride, she stopped her bike, turned around, looked at me with a big smile and said, “Well, what do you think?” As I sat on her husband’s mountain bike, breathless, I surveyed my bruises, cuts and blood on various parts of my body, then looked her straight in the eye and said, “I loved it!” Lesson learned! I don’t think I ever went mountain biking with her again.
Wendi had a positive impact on me, and on many others, in countless ways. The stories are endless and include matchmaking, helping neighbors in need, helping people she didn’t even know find a job, and more. In her honor, Debbie Oaks McBride, Kristine Farmer, and I have founded the Wendi Atwood Rogers Memorial Fund through Communities Foundation of Texas. The Fund will grant money to non-profit mentorship, community or pro bono projects. I know Wendi would have been proud. Please visit the website at https://www.cftexas.org/wendi-atwood-rogers.