Thomas Franklyn Rogers Profile Photo
1933 Thomas F. Rogers 2024

Thomas Franklyn Rogers

April 12, 1933 — June 24, 2024

Bountiful, UT

Thomas Franklyn Rogers, age 91, peacefully passed away at his home in Bountiful, Utah, on June 24, 2024, surrounded by his loving family. Born on April 12, 1933, in Salt Lake City to Lucille Collett and William Alma Rogers, Tom was raised by his mother and maternal grandmother during his father's extended absence for the first 17 years of his life. As an only child, Tom said that he didn’t miss the siblings he never knew, and though often alone, he never felt especially lonely.

Although Lucille’s background was as a professional singer and musician, out of necessity, she worked as a secretary and bookstore clerk, earning $5 a day to ensure that Tom’s needs were met. As a teenager he was self-conscious about his relative poverty and worried that his better-off classmates might see him on the street pulling a block of ice in his red wagon for the icebox they used in place of a refrigerator. Unlike his peers, they still used a coal stove, had no heating in their bedrooms, and didn’t own a car. Despite these humble circumstances, under the loving influence and nurture of his mother and grandmother, Tom had a happy childhood, enjoyed a rich intellectual upbringing, and developed a deep passion for music, art, and literature. 

Tom successively attended Oquirrh Grade School, Douglas Grade School, Roosevelt Jr. High, and East High where he edited the student newspaper and participated in the debate club. At the University of Utah, he completed a B.A. in international relations with an equivalent degree in theater and minors in English, history, and Russian. While serving as inter-chapter president of the church fraternity, Lambda Delta Sigma, he met Merriam Dickson who was the president of one of the women’s chapters. They connected over their avid interest in theater and became friends. After graduating from the University of Utah, Tom was called to the North German Mission where he served from 1955 to 1958. He regarded the East German members and missionaries in Soviet-occupied Berlin as the Church’s twentieth-century pioneer saints and considered his interactions with them the highlight of his mission experience. Tom wrote to Merriam throughout his mission and received strength and encouragement from her letters. With two years still remaining before his return, he proposed by letter and mailed Merriam his Lambda Delta Sigma pin. She said yes, and they were married on February 21, 1958, just nine days after his return. 

Tom’s academic pursuits led him to the Yale School of Drama where he spent two years before changing fields just a year away from a doctorate of fine arts. He spent two more years with the Yale Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and four additional years teaching at Howard University in Washington DC while earning a PhD in Russian language and literature at Georgetown University. From there, he received an appointment to teach at the University of Utah where he taught for 3 years before being invited to join the BYU faculty. He spent the next 31 years teaching Russian language and literature at BYU and felt privileged to work with outstanding colleagues who became lifelong friends. A highlight of his time at BYU was serving as director of the Honors Program and interacting with brilliant young scholars, many of whom he stayed in touch with throughout his life. 

One of the most gratifying and totally unexpected associations he had at BYU was with the theater department, where he was encouraged to resume writing plays and also directed and acted. His best-known play, Huebener, played to sold-out audiences in 1976. The play was translated into Russian, German, and Finnish and was performed in the US, Finland, Canada, and Russia at universities and in community theaters, high schools, churches, and professional theaters. Tom wrote over 30 plays and was given the lifetime achievement award by the Mormon Festival of the Arts and the Association of Mormon Letters. Gene England cited him as “the father of Mormon drama,” a tribute which he always cherished. 

Tom’s life was marked by his dedication to his faith and service in various capacities within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He and Merriam served as mission leaders in the Russia St. Petersburg Mission from 1993-1996 where they came to know and love the Russian saints and the missionaries in their care. They later served in the Stockholm Sweden temple, assisting Russian church members who traveled to Sweden to receive their temple blessings. From 2007 until 2014, Tom was a traveling LDS patriarch assigned to Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Armenia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. During his eight years serving in this capacity, he made 24 trans-Atlantic crossings and bestowed over 2600 patriarchal blessings, including many to his own posterity. He served as a sealer in the Sweden and Bountiful temples and had the privilege of officiating at the weddings of many of his grandchildren. 

Tom was passionate about meeting people and exploring cultures, languages, and far off places. He intensively studied eight languages, with lengthy residences in Germany, Russia, Poland, the former Yugoslavia, Austria, India, Sweden, Syria, and China where he and Merriam taught English to graduate students at Peking University from 2000 to 2001. He opened his heart and his home to people of all nationalities and from all walks of life, and while traveling, often found himself in the homes of complete strangers with whom he’d struck up conversations on trains or in the street. His children and grandchildren were afforded opportunities to travel and see new parts of the world as they participated with him in study abroad programs, sabbaticals, and his travels as a patriarch. 

 Upon his retirement, Tom worked at improving his piano skills and also began studying painting. He took great delight in doing portraits and landscapes, mostly of people and places he encountered in his travels. He enjoyed gardening, always planting more than he could possibly use, and was rarely seen without a book in hand. He was always interested in politics and social issues, and loved discussing literature, religion, film, and philosophy with those around him. He loved great novels, stirring symphonies, memorable productions of profound plays, and certain rare films, finding that they challenged, stretched, sensitized, enlightened, edified, and enhanced the individual. 

Tom was in awe of his extensive posterity and marveled that, as an only child, he was blessed with so many descendants. He cherished time spent with his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and blessed them with a legacy of faith, love, life-long learning, and cultural appreciation. He frequently expressed how fortunate he and Merriam were to claim their posterity and for their descendants to claim them in turn. He loved and revered his ancestors, knew their stories, and recounted their histories with great esteem. He was looking forward to the August 2024 publication of his final work, Desperate Measures, a novel based on the lives of several of his ancestors.

Tom lived an extraordinary and full life as a husband, father, essayist, playwright, linguist, artist, scholar, world traveler, mentor, disciple, and friend. His influence touched countless lives, and his absence will be deeply felt.

Tom was preceded in death by his parents, his beloved wife, Merriam, and grandsons Adam Mortensen and Cole Dunshee. He is survived by his seven children Grace (James) Anderegg, Kyra (Patrick) Dunshee, Krista Mortensen, Thomas Jr (Rebecca) Rogers, Karren (Michael) Noel, Mary (Jared) Memmott, and William Rogers and was delighted to be the grandfather to 42 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren with the 22nd due next week. 

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 29, 2024, at the Bountiful 15th Ward building located at 1250 South Main Street, Bountiful, Utah. Viewings will take place on Friday, June 28, 2024, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. and on Saturday, June 29, 2024, from 9:30-10:45 a.m. in the same location. Interment will take place at the Bountiful City Cemetery.

 Funeral services will be streamed live on the Russon Mortuary Live Facebook page and on this obituary page. The live stream will begin 10-15 minutes prior to services and will be posted below.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Thomas Franklyn Rogers, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Viewing

Friday, June 28, 2024

6:00 - 8:00 pm (Mountain time)

Bountiful 15th Ward Building

1250 S. Main Street, Bountiful, UT 84010

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Viewing

Saturday, June 29, 2024

9:30 - 10:45 am (Mountain time)

Bountiful 15th Ward Building

1250 S. Main Street, Bountiful, UT 84010

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Saturday, June 29, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Mountain time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

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