October 18, 1925 – November 4, 2020
George Rogers Duff, age 95, of Joplin MO passed away on November 4, 2020 at 5PM after a long and loving life. He was born in Carthage MO October 18, 1925 to George Euin & Nellie Faye Rogers Duff. Both families were lifelong residents of the Carthage area since the mid 1850’s.
Raised on the family farm / homestead, Rogers learned to hunt at an early age and often told of shooting multiple birds / game with a single shot, as he received shells from his folks based on the game he presented on return. Supplies were sparse during the great depression.
Rogers went on to operate, maintain and improve the Homestead in Sarcoxie as well as the other family Homestead in Carthage, where he had also spent time as a child. Intensive grazing techniques were developed over the years in Sarcoxie allowing the cattle operation to thrive which is now managed by his son David with the help of other family members.
After school he enlisted in the Navy on October 2nd, 1944 and received basic training at the Great Lakes Naval station. After exhibiting exceptional endurance, marksmanship and seeing/spotting capabilities he received further training in under water demolition “ UDT “at the Swimmers School on Road Island (Seal training in modern day terms). Rogers completing specialized training for a code named operation, “Tessie 29” later identified as the lead operation to clear obstacles in Tokyo Bay for the invasion of Japans Home Island. Designated a Sea Bee, Seaman Duff shipped out and waded ashore in the 4th assault wave invading Okinawa. He was with several outfits as attrition was high during the war, and he told of sleeping away from others in bushes to avoid ambush over night. Most stories of the war were only told later in life and the details skirted the horrors and memories of war. Honorably discharged in 1946 with Pacific and Victory medals, Rogers returned home to Sarcoxie.
Upon returning to the farm Rogers attended Joplin Junior college and Southwest Missouri State College. Prior to earning his Bachelors, Masters and Educational degrees in Educational Administration at Kansas State Teachers College (now PSU), he married Lorrain Gillette on May 21, 1947 in Monett, MO. The couple had five sons Edward, Steven, David, Phillip and Douglas. Starting his career in education Mr. Duff first served as principal of Oronogo, then East Central, Royal Heights, and Kelsey Norman finishing at McKinley Elementary holding positions as Elementary School Principal some 38 years. He worked in the R-8 School System in development and administration of nationally recognized programs for advanced reading and math as well as working with students on his beloved art projects. Rogers was recognized by the Missouri State House of Representatives in 2005 for meritorious endeavors as a citizen, educator, civic servant, man of faith, and veteran. He also served as president of the MSSC alumni associations. During the summer breaks he took on additional work as an Insurance Adjuster to supplement the family income as well as taking his family on extended vacations with close family friends.
Rogers developed a love for flying airplanes at the early age of 14, and flew on a Student Fliers certificate, jokingly said to be signed by Orville. He went on to be a key player in starting Joplin Fliers Incorporated. The club had many members over the years and a couple of planes. He stepped back from flying solo in his eighties, but his passion for flying never faded, and he would seldom turn down the opportunity when offered the chance to fly with family or friends.
Rogers was an active and faithful member of Byers Avenue United Methodist Church in Joplin, where he faithfully attended Sunday school and Church Services, assisted with church renovations and other needed services. He developed lifelong friendships during his years of fellowship with the Church.
Rogers was preceded in death by the love of his life and wife of 68 years, Lorrain, and one son Douglas Knight. He is survived by four sons, Edward, Steven, David, Phillip & Wife Christine of Joplin. Rogers is also survived by seven grandchildren, Jordan, Rachel & Partner Jonathan Thomas, Mollie, Jake, Gretchen & Partner Michael Sariego, Max and Paris. Six great-grandchildren, Maliena, Jonathan, Lynnen, Leland, and Miles Thomas, and Anthony Sariego.
Rogers is held in state for viewing at Parker Mortuary until the visitation Monday November 9th, from 5-7pm. The funeral service will held be at Byers Avenue United Methodist Church on Tuesday November 10th, at 10am officiated by Pastor Chuck Kralik. Serving as pallbearers will be Rogers son David, grandsons Jordan, Jake & Max, assisted by Jonathan Thomas, Michael Sariego, Zach Gallette and Herschel Keesee. Graveside service and 21 gun salute will follow to honor Rogers and all those fallen in service. Viewing of Roger’s and other veteran’s memorialized bricks are available for viewing daily at the Sarcoxie Veterans Memorial on the square.
Having tested positive for COVID-19 several times as his condition rapidly deteriorated, social distancing guide lines will be observed during all services. Arrangements are under the direction of Parker Mortuary in Joplin.