Florence Rogers, 93, organizer in drive to create Soldiers Delight preserve

November 05, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Florence Rogers, a civic activist who successfully campaigned to create the Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area near Reisterstown, died Wednesday of heart failure at her Pikesville home on Seven Mile Lane. She was 93.

In the 1960s, she joined a committee to supply the political influence to purchase what has become a 1,800-acre preserve of serpentine bedrock and endangered plants in a rapidly growing section of metropolitan Baltimore.

She organized a group of women to stand in front of Northwest Baltimore supermarkets and solicit dollar bills to buy the tracts of land that were in private hands. The group also held bake sales and raised $25,000 - a figure that impressed government officials at the time.

"Here we were, a floundering bunch of naturalists, trying to save a place where we were really trespassing," said Jean G. Worthley, a former president of Soldiers Delight Conservation Inc. "Without even seeing the place, she said she'd take up the cause."

She was recalled as a persistent and outspoken advocate for the causes she embraced.

"She had a lot of passion," said former Lt. Gov. Melvin A. Steinberg. "When she had an issue, she was concerned to get the money for it."

Once the land for the park was purchased, she directed her energy toward getting a visitors center built there. When told that would never happen, she doubled her efforts. The center opened in 1991.

"She was very politically minded and rubbed shoulders with a lot of people," said Fraser Bishop, manager of Patapsco Valley State Park. "She pushed the right buttons until the job was done."

Born Florence Askin in Washington, she was a graduate of Wilson Teachers College there.

As a young woman, she taught elementary school and credited her teacher's training with making her realize that Soldiers Delight could become a place where students could learn the elements of science.

Her work with Soldiers Delight was one of many campaigns she led during her decades of community service. During World War II, she sold U.S. government bonds and received a U.S. Treasury Department silver medal for her efforts.

She served as president of the Chizuk Amuno Congregation Sisterhood and sat on the congregation's board. She was also on the board of the Jewish Theological Seminary for more than 50 years.

A former national vice president of the National Women's League of the United Synagogue of America, she founded the organization's Seaboard Branch. She was also a president of the Baltimore Council of the American Jewish Congress. In the 1950s and 1960s, she led campaigns to sell bonds for Israel. Among her other charities were the Girl Scout Council of Maryland, the American Red Cross and United Way of Central Maryland. From 1964 to 1968, she was chairwoman of the legislative committee for the United Democratic Women's Clubs of Maryland. In 1939, she married Solomon Rogers, an attorney, who died in 1971.

Private services were held Friday. She is survived by a son, Nolan H. Rogers of Baltimore; a brother, Bernard Askin of Charles Town, W. Va.; a sister, Ruth Lombard of Bethesda; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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