Dr. Wilmer A. (Bill) Rogers, 85, of Auburn, AL, passed away peacefully at home on Friday, July 12, 2019, surrounded by his family. A celebration of life service will be held on Friday, July 26 at 12 p.m. at the Auburn United Methodist Church Founders’ Chapel. The family will receive relatives and friends one hour prior at 11 a.m., and a reception will follow after the service. Reverend Cory Smith will officiate.
Bill is survived by his loving wife, Carole, of almost 59 years; four daughters: Julie Nolen, Natalie Dudchock (Alex), Nancy Brooks (Lare), Melissa Miles (Eddie); seven grandsons: Davis and Russell Dudchock, Jeremy Nolen, Cameron and Reed Miles, and Hunter and Dean Brooks; one granddaughter, Anna Carole Nolen; one sister, Sissie Crumpton (Ronnie); beloved extended family and a host of friends. He is predeceased by one grandson, Blake Dudchock. The second of seven children, Bill is also pre-deceased by his parents, Thomas M. and Maude G. Rogers; three brothers: Thomas D. (Betty), Douglas (Mary), and Garber Dale; and two sisters: Mary Dozier (Hank) and Sandra Sanford (Gene).
Bill was born in Mt. Dora, Florida, moved to West Virginia for several years and then to Mississippi where was raised. He quit school after finishing the eighth grade at Heidelberg, Mississippi. He worked at various jobs and then joined the Navy at 17 years of age. He served three years during the Korean War and was honorably discharged in May, 1954. He enrolled at the University of Southern Mississippi in February 1955, on the basis of a G.E.D. he had taken in the Navy. He met the requirements for a B.S. degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1957.
He worked as a Fishery Biologist Aide for the Mississippi Game and Fish Commission until June 1958 when he enrolled in Auburn University (A.P.I.). He received an M.S. in Fisheries Management in 1960. He worked for two years for the Alabama Game and Fish Commission as a District Fisheries Biologist where he met the love of his life, Carole. He then worked as Assistant Director of the U.S.F.W.S. Warm-Water Fisheries Training School at Marion, Alabama, for two years where he taught and was a co-author in rewriting the Journal of Warm-Water Fish Culture. In 1964, he joined the faculty of Fisheries and Allied Aquaculture (now the School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences) at Auburn and completed his Ph.D. He held every position from Instructor to Full Professor and Department Head before his retirement in 1995. His dissertation research was on identification and control of fish parasites and he discovered over 100 new species of fish parasites. He provided research on chemicals and drugs used to control fish diseases to FDA that led to their clearance for use on food fish.
He was the leader of the Southeastern Fish Disease Project that was supported at one time or another by all of the Southeastern states. The grants received by the Project provided assistantships for over 100 graduate students to get M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Hundreds of publications came from this research including several books, chapters of books, refereed and popular articles. He was the first editor of the Proceedings of the S.E. Game and Fish Commissioners and was a reviewer for many journals. He was very active in professional societies and served on numerous committees. He served as President of the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society and President of the Fish Health Section of the American Fisheries Society.
While serving as President of the Fish Health Section, he initiated the Journal of Aquatic Animal Health and served as co-editor for years. For several years he taught the Fish Parasitology section of the long course of fish diseases at Leetown, West Virginia. He won many awards including the S.F. Snieszko Distinguished Service Award, the C.W. Watson Distinguished Service Award, award for serving as Editor of the Southeastern Proceedings of Fish and Wildlife agencies, awards for serving as President of AFS Fish Health Section and President of the Southern Division of AFS, and an Award of Appreciation from the Catfish Farmers of America for research on control of fish diseases.
Bill was a member of Auburn United Methodist Church and the Heart, Mind and Soul Sunday School class. He cherished his family and loved family vacations, fishing and hunting, telling stories, building and playing fretless banjos and mountain dulcimers, and playing his instruments for REACH. Bill loved life and nature, and he strongly valued education. He enjoyed working with colleagues at Auburn University, playing golf, time spent with many friends at church, monthly lunches with the retired Fisheries friends and the special, Friday small-group lunches at Chappy’s. He never met a stranger.
The family expresses its appreciation to East Alabama Medical Center and Compassus Hospice and Palliative Care.
Bill had a heart for battered women. His desire was for gifts in his memory be made to the Domestic Violence Intervention Center, P.O. Box 2183, Opelika, AL 36803.
Alabama Funeral Homes & Cremation Centers of Camp Hill, Alabama is handling arrangements.