COVID-19 claims life of Ben Rogers, longtime Boy Scout volunteer in the Quad-Cities
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COVID-19 claims life of Ben Rogers, longtime Boy Scout volunteer in the Quad-Cities

Austin Mitchell said any moment spent with Ben Rogers was a moment that bettered your life.

"He was simply the best, a giving man who was willing to lend a second hand no matter what was going on,'' Mitchell, the Boy Scout camp ranger at Loud Thunder Forest Preserve, said of Rogers, who died Tuesday from complications from the coronavirus. 

In a post on the Illowa Council, Boy Scouts of America Facebook page,  it was announced that Rogers passed after battling the coronavirus for more than a month.

The post said Rogers was active in all levels of scouting and was the kitchen king at Camp Loud Thunder and the grub master for the chuck wagon at the camp. He was tied closely for many years to Troop 109 at Moline's Seton Catholic School.

"He was joyful in everything he did or tried,'' Mitchell said of Rogers. "There was never a dull moment around him for sure.''

Mitchell said it was Rogers, who on his own time, would find his way to the scout camp at Loud Thunder and assist with ongoing projects.

"He was always there to help,'' Mitchell said, noting that any time Rogers was guiding a group of scouts toward their cooking merit badge, it was his signal to stop in for a bowl of whatever was being made.

"The kids loved learning from him and Ben was great with anything, but he could cook,'' Mitchell said. "You could always get a bowl of something good with him in charge.''

Rogers was said to be legendary when it came to making chili, was great with a joke and was a huge John Wayne fan.

"Everyone loved being around Ben, including me,'' Mitchell said. "There was not a better man.''

James Schmidt became an Eagle Scout in 2003 and shared the National Jamboree with Rogers in 2005. At the beginning of the excursion, Rogers put Schmidt in charge of the 36 young scouts before them. 

"Outside of my own troop, Ben Rogers was probably the Scouter who had the biggest impact on me,'' Schmidt said. "He just turned to me and said it was time for me to lead. Mind you, he was there to guide me, but he gave me the freedom to make my own way and it was something that was life-changing for me.

"He taught me more about being a leader in those two weeks than I thought possible. I'm so numb just thinking about the loss of Ben, his family, the Illowa Council, and the whole Quad Cities,'' added Schmidt.

Schmidt noted Rogers was one of the funniest people he knew.

"Great John Wayne impression among others,'' Schmidt said. "He had a bunch of funny mannerisms about him and could take a joke as well as give one. Like a lot of people, I'm numb. I was hoping someday to have him be part of the scouting lives of my sons.''

Columnist John Marx can be reached at 309 757 8388 or jmarx@qconline.com

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