Friends rally for Tega Cay family following unexpected death

jmarks@fortmilltimes.comJuly 8, 2013 

— Those who knew Greg Rogers say there wasn’t much he couldn’t do once he set his mind to it. Now they’re setting their minds on honoring his memory – and his family.

Rogers, 33, died July 1. The Fort Mill High School and Winthrop University graduate recently moved back to Tega Cay where he and wife, Rebecca, welcomed son Gregory Hampton Rogers, Jr. just more than a month ago. It’s unclear what cause Rogers’ death, but a friend of the family said it appeared to be natural causes.

Tega Cay resident Kelly Macaluso was one of many sending notes, emails or Facebook messages, wondering what could be done for the family.

“We’re hoping it goes around,” she said of an online donation link she blasted out to friends. “We’re hoping it gives people a practical way to honor him by doing exactly what Greg would want most, which is to take care of his family.”

Shane Duncan is president of the Pi Kappa Alpha alumni association, finishing a couple of years ahead of Rogers at Winthrop. Rogers attended Duncan’s wedding before the two knew much of each other. In the years since, Duncan came to know Rogers as ambitious and involved.

When the calls, emails and online posts began streaming in the day Rogers died, Duncan spent his lunch time setting up the contribution account and his afternoon activating a public link to it. As of mid-day Monday, the site had 123 donors contributing more than $6,500. Duncan isn’t hoping for people to stop to sending messages, but wanted a more tangible way to show concern, too.

“Everybody’s like, ‘What do we do?’” Duncan said. “This is a tangible way for us to show support.”

Duncan said the site will be open a couple of months. He doesn’t know, nor to an extent care, what financial need the family may have. He’s more interested in providing a gesture.

“We hate to lose him,” Duncan said, “but God had different plans.”

Rogers was a self-employed consultant and loved politics, running unsuccessfully for two local offices. Business partner Phil Murdock described Rogers as content to take on long odds for the sake of participating.

“He really believed in the political process,” Murdock said. “He wanted to get his ideas out there.”

Murdock worked with Rogers with their startup, Palmetto Group Consultants. Rogers coaxed Murdock out of retirement and off the beach for the venture promoting a personal passion for Rogers – economic development.

“He was a driving force, because you just couldn’t say no to Greg,” Murdock said.

Murdock describes a “bull-headed” worker who could get just about anyone on the telephone, an “irreplaceable” and tenacious person who loved reading and public service. Murdock also admired Rogers for the way he overcame what challenges he did have. Rogers had, for instance, an issue with stammering, but compensated by becoming a better listener and an articulate writer, Murdock said.

“I don’t know that I’ve met too many people in this life who tried so hard to be better than the sum of their parts,” he said.

His age at death and his leaving behind an young wife and son resonate with community members, Macaluso said. But Tega Cay is “almost unbelievable” in its response to situations like the one facing the Rogers family, she said. Macaluso believes the community will rally again.

“People have kind of felt that,” she said. “He’s one of our own. We’ve watched him grow up here.”

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