Lieutenant-Colonel Larry Gene Rodgers, 89, of Sarasota, Florida, formerly of Columbus, Ohio died from complications of COVID-19. He was treated in the COVID Ward and Intensive Care Unit at Sarasota Memorial Hospital, Sarasota, Florida from January 9, 2021 until his passing on January 19, 2021. A veteran of the Cold War and a flying warrior for over four decades, he commanded the 145th Air Refueling Squadron, Ohio Air National Guard where he served faithfully from June 1959 until April 1993.
LTC Rodgers was born on June 21, 1931 in Akron, Ohio, the only child of Arthur and Lullu Belle (Kirchner) Rodgers. Following his graduation from the University of Akron, Ohio with a BA in psychology, he joined the United States Air Force and was initially assigned to Gilbert Field in Winter Haven, Florida. He was later reassigned to Kelly Field, AFB in San Antonio, Texas and then to the Ohio Air National Guard at Rickenbacker AFB. During his flying career, he has flown with such distinguished pilots as Generals Jimmy Doolittle and "Red" Eder. One aircraft he flew is on permanent display at the Air Museum, Wright Patterson AFB.
Following active duty from June 1954 to June 1957, he worked for Prudential Life Insurance and First National Bank of Akron where he became the Assistant Controller/Cashier and Personnel Director. During this time, he returned to the University of Akron taking night classes until he achieved an MS in Business Management. LTC Rodgers married his love, Ruth Ann Sanders on February 14, 1974, and shared a wonderful marriage until he was widowed January 26, 2008. He spent his remaining time being active with Covenant Life Church in Sarasota, FL, serving as an usher and deacon, the Quiet Birdmen (Venice, Florida Hangar), traveling, attending airshows and air museums.
LTC Rodgers was a brave and loyal pilot, as well as a patient and loving father. He was kind, a great friend and strong in his faith. He was a lifelong learner and contributed immensely to his alma mater serving as trustee and regent. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in business administrations for his many accomplishments. He has participated in other organizations, such as: The Phi Delta Fraternity, Toastmasters, Optimists, Reserve Officers' Association, Retired Military Officers' Association and was a Regional President of The American Cancer Society.
He is survived by his children, Richard, Phillip, Jill, Jeffrey, and Laura, and Ruth's daughter, Barbara; daughters-in-law, Rachel, Shirley and Lisa; sons-in-law, Richard, Eric (Rick), and Ruth's son-in-law, Michael;12 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his wife, Ruth Ann, and step-son, Randy Sanders.
A Celebration of Life for LTC Rodgers will take place at Covenant Life Church, 8490 McIntosh Road, Sarasota, FL, at 1:00PM on Saturday, February 13, 2021. The service can be live streamed from their website at covenantlifepca.com. A memorial service with Military Honors will take place at Rose Hill Burial Park, Akron, Ohio at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks donations be made to Sarasota Memorial Hospital's COVID-19 Support Fund or their Intensive Care Unit in memory of LTC Larry Gene Rodgers. Donations can be made by calling 941-917-1286, or by mail to: Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, Inc., 1515 South Osprey Ave., Suite B-4, Sarasota, FL 34239-2918, or on line to SMHF.org/DONATE and follow the prompts to support these wonderful caregivers.
Services in care of The Billow Funeral Homes and Crematory, Fairlawn Chapel, 85 N. Miller Road Akron, OH 44333
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