By Jason Grant
Roger was a passionate man.
his family, his friends, acting, art, gardening and
flowers, travel, writing, work, astrology, New York and
his two King Charles Cavalier Spaniels: Winston and
He loved the
Cathedral, it’s space, the icons and the peace. He
brought friends here during the year and especially for
Pasca service: He brought them not to convert them but
to share in the joy and spiritual comfort he felt here.
The same for his
trainer Eric Walters. He wanted everyone to train with
Eric because Roger thought he was the best. His
strength during his last two months was a result of his
work with Eric.
And, he thought
everyone could benefit from acupuncture with Dr. Cai.
everyone and everything was special. He had names for
every plant and flower in his home. And, for every one
of his tropical fish.
And he loved to
laugh. His laugh was infectious.
On a visit at the hospital, Father
said he blessed Roger in 2007 when Roger
was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer, a certain
death sentence. Roger defied the rules, something he did
quite often in his life. He survived in good health.
Father said, Roger
got four more years to complete his spiritual journey.
Part of his
spiritual journey included Astrology. As a teenager in
Minneapolis he read about it. Later, he studied so that
he could cast charts. He sometimes gave astrological
readings to friends as a gift.
He was the
personification of Gemini, his astrological sign.
Wikipedia defines it: describing an impulse towards
change and versatility, and an easy ability to adapt to
the demands of the environment. An easy ability to
effectively interpret symbols, environment. To have a
talent for writing and reporting, and to enjoy all forms
of 'talk'. Roger loved to interpret signs.
family: He was the glue
that kept them together.
With his sister
Lynn he took trips to Grand Marais, northern Minnesota
and the Great Lakes region, Portugal and their last
trip, this past July, was to Paris, he wanted to show
off the City he loved to the sister he loved.
When his Mother
was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, over her 4 year
fight, Roger--when not visiting her in Minneapolis-- was
writing her long newsy, funny, gossipy letters.
Later, his Father
was living part of the year in Ft. Myers Florida when he
was diagnosed with bladder cancer, Roger became a human
shuttle between New York City & Florida at the same time
not neglecting his work with Couri Hay at Creative PR.
holiday weekend, his Aunt Joyce called from California
and reminisced about his visit a year and a half ago.
How the whole West Coast family celebrated on land and
at sea. And how they loved his infectious laugh.
was a magnet with his friends.
He maintained friendships from his past as well as the
present. About two years ago, he flew home for his high
school reunion. He continued to be in touch with them
Today in the congregation a few friends who he continued
to enjoy: Norman Sanders, Thomas Knapp, Laura Lee Ross,
Colette, Alice Weill Judelson and Couri Hay. Also here
are Beatriz Parga who flew up from Miami this morning
and Marilyn Kinnier, Roger’s high school sweetheart, who
flew in from Arizona.
was proud of his friends old and new and their
Miniter with her leadership of Central Park Conservancy
Muffie Potter Aston kept him in awe at the way she did
so much for Memorial Sloan Kettering, American Cancer
Society, her daughters Ashleigh and Bracie and her
husband Sherrell…and was never tired.
looked up to Cynthia Lufkin and wanted to set examples
like she did in her battle with breast cancer
Bush whose Feed Bears help starving children around the
world, the righting of an injustice, a cause dear to his
Anna Safir for her work at the UN on drug trafficking
Shafiroff and her successful fund raising efforts for
South Hampton Hospital
McLaughlin, another Minnesota native, who Roger met when
she was a director of the Society of MSKCC and then at
the Fund for Park Avenue,
animal lover, Lisa McCarthy won Roger’s devotion for her
flying her plane on animal rescue missions.
These are women who worked hard to make a difference in
New York and in the quality of life. They continue to
do it with determination, energy and success, although
they don’t have to.
year, Roger wrote an editorial for Social Affairs
magazine-- He was the New York editor. --about the many
challenges of the work of the women who chair events in
He admired Michèle Gerber Klein for her dedication to
art-The Whitney Museum, the New Museum, the Bronx
Museum, her travel and fashion writings. And a passion
they shared with Couri Hay for the dress designer
Hay was not only his pr mentor, the two men shared a
forty-year friendship, traveling together, working
together, meeting the Who’s Who of the later part of the
Art expert Tom Knapp could make Roger laugh, They are
both Gemini and they remained close, Tom lavishing,
nurturing Roger during final days
Michel Witmer combined the wisdom and sophistication
that gave the art world its glamour. But Michel was also
the strong core. His leadership role in TEFAF, a
non-profit art fair, in Maastricht that donated money to
David Patrick Columbia Roger shared an interest in
astrology, similar views of the world condition. At
heart, DPC was Roger’s hero for his website New York
Social Diary, the New York town crier, that celebrated
present and past about the City he loved.
writing about Roger, David said, “Everywhere he went he
met interesting people, and they’d meet a man who liked
them for who they were. That was part of what was
interesting about Roger. That’s quite a talent in
breakneck city life, and rarely achieved honestly.”
No slouch as a photographer, Roger admired Jeff Hirsch’s
journalistic as well as artistic photos. Jeff’s art
photos, which were sold at the Chinese Porcelain Company
captured New York in a way that highlighted for Roger
both the isolation of the City and its stark beauty.
He loved Annie Watt’s photos because she made everyone
look great. And Patrick McMullan did in photographs for
New York life what DPC did in words.
Keri Ingvarsson is a relatively new friend. She is
founder of The King Collective. She wrote in her blog,
“Roger spoke with true conviction and illuminated a deep
passion for Manhattan life.”
on to write, “Roger told me once that it is okay not to
be perfect; that what matters most in work and life is
to continue to be intrigued, even if not fulfilled.”
He also admired Julie Sharbutt, an actress whose career
he has followed beginning with her days at NYU graduate
also took an interest in the younger generations,
children of his friends: in Serena and Quint Miniter who
are here today, Ashleigh and Bracie Aston and Stella
Stephanopoulos. More about the Stephanoupoulos family
Roger loved to
act, to sing and to dance.
he moved to NY and why he lived for a while in LA.
He had a
major success last June in the showcase “Face it” in
which he sang and danced.
He didn’t lose an opportunity to celebrate the talents
of everyone in the class and to show his support.
years back, he sang at Don’t Tell Mama. He loved the
music of the Great American Song Book, as well as the
opera, ballet, the symphony and… club music. Roger
loved to dance. Studio 54 was his one-time Temple.
That was replaced by the parties at Doubles.
Spend any time with Roger and you knew he loved Marilyn
Monroe. He read everything about her and was already
ready to discuss the relative merits of her biographers.
He even painted her.
love of acting came his comprehensive knowledge of
Hollywood films. There are photographs of the film
greats of the 20th century on the walls of
Roger loved art.
He really wanted everything to be
to paint, several of you have his paintings on thank you
notes and birthday. He was also a wonderful photographer
whose pictures appeared in New York Social Diary. In
fact he broke the Diary record with 96 photos of the
March 2011 TEFAF story
museums, and supported the Metropolitan, the Modern and
He loved the art, and the art of his friends:
Colette, for being an original imitated by women like
Madonna and Lady Gaga. He wanted her to write a book
There are also the paintings of Laura Lee Ross and,
Rosalyn Engelman. Kelvin Nugroho, whom Roger partnered
with in a jewelry company Clever Vercosa who transformed
Roger’s livingroom into his dream come true, and, the
Haughtons and their art fairs at the Armory for bringing
some of the best to NY.
Gardening and Flowers
It seems Roger always had a green thumb.
up, he lived on a street lined with elm trees except for
one maple tree in their front lawn.
nearly destroyed by a storm.
Roger saved the tree. 50 years later it’s alive and
At one time,
he had a company with several employees serving homes
out of the City as well as penthouse gardens.
home, he had a garden inside and outside of every
window. And, every flower, every plant had a first
traveling, Roger was always photographing gardens and
In addition to trips with his sister…
friend Marilyn Lester he went to Prague and CONTACT
_Con-384A447A20B \c \s \l Brazil.
Many trips with
the most affecting trip was after the diagnosis of stage
4 prostate cancer. His PSA on the day he started
treatment was 1500. Normal is 1-4. He thought he
wasn’t going to live.
George and Elena Stephanopoulos invited Roger to join
them and their daughter Stella on a trip to Greece,
which eventually included Mt. Athos and the acetic life,
the Island of Paros for spiritual exploration, then
Jordan and Israel.
returned to NYC for his next treatment, his PSA was zero
and remained at zero until he died.
Roger also took trips to
story with photos appeared in New York Social Diary,
Marrakech –David and Jeff you’re going to get his final
story and photos,
Amsterdam for the
opening of the Hermitage,
Paris – Fete de la
He went to the
West Coast for the book party celebrating Venturing
in Italy, the travel book that included two of his
Roger contributed columns and articles to Social
Affairs, 15minutesmagazine, Hamptons.com, aforesaid New
York Social Diary and a poem in Anton Perich’s magazine
Roger had a strong work ethic and tremendous obligation
to his clients. After he formed his company, he picked
his clients by looking for people he wanted to work with
and whose achievements he admired.
Among his clients:
He loved Swifty’s not just because of Robert, Stephen,
Blaine and Pat, but also because the food was delicious
and reminded him of a refined New York version of his
Doubles stood for everything he thought New York was and
should be. He wanted the world to know about the club
and Wendy Carduner who runs it maintaining the highest
standards of service and discreet attention.
Cancer Society was a cause dear to his heart because of
his parents and his own battle.
Last August, he was determined to attend all the events
for the Inaugural Hamptons event Festive in Flip
Flops, which included festivities the weekend
before. In a generous show of community spirit, there
were parties at Mackenzie-Childs in Southampton,
Christopher Fischer in East Hampton and Gail Schoentag
Gallery in Sag Harbor. The following weekend, in
Bridgehampton a joyous Festive in Flip Flops, his last
public appearance, where he spent the night seated at
the check-in desk.
Both Central Park Conservancy and Fund for Park Avenue
were causes dear to his heart. Partially because they
both dealt with gardening but they were also hallmarks
of the City he loved.
lived on Central Park. Every weekend possible, he’d go
into the Park to his rock, read, sunbath and chat on his
cell phone. Whether it was The Hat Luncheon, Taste of
Summer, Playground Partners, he felt that helping the
Conservancy helped the City for everyone.
same held true for Fund For Park Avenue. It was
important because it represented NY to the world, with
it’s gracious boulevard and the flowering islands in the
middle. And because his father had been a POW in WWII,
the Memorial Trees lighting around Christmas had special
There are two funds established in Roger’s name, one at
the Central Park Conservancy and one at the Fund for
Park Avenue. The money raised will be used to buy a
bench in the Park and a tree or two on the Park Avenue
represented the finest of what NY is and should be.
Trends come and go, Roger said. “But, Scully like the
Rock of Gibraltar, is always here.”
French Heritage Socity combined Roger’s many passions,
art, gardens, glamour and a wonderful team lead by
Elizabeth Stribling, CeCe Black, Margo Langenberg, Mitzi
Perdue and Jean Shafiroff. Theywork to rehabilitate
French Patrimony in France and the US.
Roger believed in it. Even before he came to NY. He
studied it, followed it. He was a Gemini and true to
cards, he had been studying for the last two years.
Was Roger’s home, his spiritual base. It was probably
his home long before he ever arrived. He was naturally
smart, elegant, kind and generous. He loved both the
hustle and bustle of the City and it’s polished
If I forgot to credit or mention someone, chalk it up to
mourner’s grief. For those who want to know, how he
died, Roger planned his funeral. He said he wasn’t
afraid of dying, but he wasn’t ready to die. Early
morning on October third, he was breathing gently, in,
out, in, out. And then, it stopped