Demarest Rodgers ’31 died July 7, 2003. She was 92.
A community leader whose commitment to service made a difference
in so many lives, Rodgers dedicated her life to helping young
In 1956, 25 years after she graduated magna cum laude at the age
of 19 from Wittenberg, Rodgers founded the university’s
annual Style Show, the main fund-raising event of the Wittenberg
The Style Show, combined with the Martha Rodgers Benefactors Fund,
established in her honor in 1990, have raised more than $700,000
for Wittenberg University scholarships and various campus projects,
including the Ann Miller Art Gallery.
A lifelong resident of Springfield, Rodgers’ dedication
to service was also evident during her student days. A member
of several honor societies and a sister in Alpha Delta Pi sorority,
Rodgers, who majored in music, served as concertmaster of the
Wittenberg Symphony Orchestra.
She later went on to teach and supervise music in the Springfield
City School District for 10 years before becoming secretary-treasurer
of her late husband’s company, Rodgers Construction, which
built the first open-air mall in the United States. The company
also built several campus buildings including Thomas Library for
which Rodgers and her husband of 55 years, the late Don C. Rodgers,
provided the “Tree of Life” door.
Rodgers was also responsible for originating the Art Museum Ball,
St. John’s Wine-Tasting Party and the Sky Terrace Guild
at Mercy Medical Center.
In recognition of loyalty of service and dedication to the university,
Wittenberg honored Rodgers in 2000 with its highest non-academic
award, the Medal of Honor. She also received the prestigious Wittenberg
University Alumni Association’s Class of 1914 Award for
Meritorious Service in 1995.
“She was a generous, loving, personal and a real incredible
human being,” said Kristy Kohl McCready, executive director
of university advancement. “We’ll miss her terribly.”
Rodgers is survived by her niece and her husband, her nephew and
his wife, and several grand-nieces and nephews. Her parents, husband
and a sister preceded her in death.