Jump to Navigation

Richard Dean Rogers

Richard Dean RogersBorn: December 29, 1921, Oberlin, Decatur County, Kansas. Married: Beth Stewart in 1946, Cynthia Conklin in 1987. Died: November 25, 2016, Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas.

Richard Dean Rogers was born to William Clark and Evelyn May (Christian) Rogers on December 29, 1921, in Oberlin, Kansas. The family moved to Wamego when he was in the first grade. At the age of eight he provided curb service for customers of a Wamego drugstore, taking their prescriptions into the drugstore to be filled.

Rogers graduated from Wamego High School in 1939. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University in January 1943. He joined the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II and completed Officer Candidate School in May 1943. As a bombardier in a B-24 heavy bomber, he flew 33 combat missions over Europe, earning the rank of captain and receiving the Distinguished Flying Cross.

He married Beth Stewart in 1946, who he had known since he was a child. They had two daughters and an adopted a son. Beth died in 1983.

After his military service was finished, Rogers earned a juris doctorate degree from the University of Kansas Law School in 1947. He immediately established a private law practice in Manhattan.  He was elected to serve as a Manhattan city commissioner, and later served two terms, in 1952 and 1964, as mayor of Manhattan. He taught business law at K-State from 1948 to 1952. He was elected Riley County attorney in 1954 and served four years. He served as general counsel for Kansas Farm Bureau and Service Companies from 1960 to 1975. Rogers was elected to serve in the Kansas House of Representatives in 1964 where he served four years; then elected to the Kansas Senate in 1968, where he served as president in 1975.

In 1975 he was nominated by President Gerald Ford to the U.S. District Court, and approved by the U.S. Senate. He was named a senior district judge in 1989, and in 2015 took inactive senior status, while continuing to serve the court as a consultant.

His case docket includes the reopening of the historic Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, or Brown II, which ultimately resulted in the construction of magnet schools in Topeka; the trials of three leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood, a white-supremacist group; and a lawsuit dealing with Kansas prison overcrowding, which resulted in updated state correctional facilities and a new prison in El Dorado.

Rogers married Cynthia Conklin, a single mother of two, in 1987. He was an avid reader who particularly enjoyed books about history. He worked with a K-State professor to craft his autobiography, which is available through the Kansas Historical Society. He was also a certified massage therapist. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church. He was named a Distinguished Kansan by the Native Sons and Daughters of Kansas in 1985.

He joined the Kansas Historical Society in 1951, was elected to the Kansas Historical Foundation Board of Directors in 1969, and to the executive committee in 1989. He served as president in 1994-1995, and was elected to the honorary board in 2011 where he continued to serve until his death November 25, 2016, in Topeka.

Entry: Rogers, Richard Dean

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: December 2016

Date Modified: December 2016

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.