yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee
People of Action - 1969

From Lillye Younger, People of Action (Brewer Printing Company, Jackson, Tennessee, n.d.).  Special thanks to Constance Collett and the estate of the late Lillye Younger for permission to make this web page.


By Lillye Younger

Decaturville Native Moves Back To Retire And Becomes Mayor

DECATURVILLE, Tenn. — One of the most lovable characters in Decaturville is Mayor Will Rogers, who is serving his 14th year in office.

"I moved back to Decaturville in 1948 after having lived in Houston, Tex., for 40 years," the 81-year-old Mayor said. "Houston was growing so fast and I found it difficult to get a parking place in the business area."

"I suggested to my wife that we move back to the country and retire," he said. "She agreed to under one condition, if I let her draw the blueprint for our house, which I did. She wanted a large ranch style house and got it, 2,900 square feet."

Rogers retired from work as Chief Government Inspector of U.S. Army tanks. Prior to that position, he worked as a drummer selling dry goods.

"I have worked harder since I retired than I ever did," he said. It was in 1952 that Rogers' name was written in on the city ballot for mayor. He defeated his opponent, Henry Evans.

"All I got was headaches by being elected mayor. However, with a good city board, we have gotten out of the red, had natural gas installed, secured a building for the city hail, put in the water system," the Mayor maid. "When the system was installed, there were 120 subscribers, now we have 309. The first month after I became mayor, the city light bill was $19. Today it is $291."

"Decaturvile was a ghost town before industry came in," Rogers said. "We have a garment plant that employs between 1,150 to 1,200 persons, which is a real life saver to our town and county. We also have a hog buying station that helps our farmers."

In regard to the world situation, Rogers said, "We definitely have to block the Asians. I'm behind President Johnson 100 per cent.

Rogers is a Southern Methodist and a Southern Democrat, son of the late James Tate and Fredona Dennison Rogers. He attended his first school at Decaturville in 1891. After graduating from high school, he majored in business administration at Dickson Normal.

His advice to young people is to study and work hard in order to achieve their goals in life. "Do not be school drop-outs. If I had it all to do over, I wouldn't make any changes in my life," he added. "I might make it worse."

The popular Mayor loves people. "I enjoy association with them," he said. He is an excellent conversationalist. "Sit me down at home for 60 days and I'd die."

"I used to raise a vegetable garden but with the tight schedule as mayor, I don't have time," he said. His office hours are from 8 until 5 every weekday.

The Immaculate office is an inviting place, with Its shiny mahogany desk, comfortable chairs and colorful decorations, to visitors. The building was formerly the telephone exchange and Rogers was able to secure it for a city hail. "It's the first City Hall we have ever had," he said.

Besides his duties as mayor, Rogers is chairman of the Decatur County Draft Board, steward in the First Methodist Church, member of the Decaturville Lions and the Business Men's Club. He has been a Mason over 60 years and proudly wears the 50-year service pin. He enjoys reading and subscribes to four leading newspapers, plus several magazines. He said, in a joking manner, "My wife takes every magazine in the book."

He summed up his life by saying, "I've had plenty of ups and downs but I've enjoyed every bit of life. Just now I am trying to make up my mind to quit politics, after all I'm the second oldest man in Decatur County," the alert Mayor said. "I think perhaps we need to train a younger man for the political field."

He is married to the former Annie Ruth Watts of Center, Tex. They have one son, Eugene Rogers, who lives in Dallas.

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