Dan Swen Rogers
July 24th 1934 - July 7th 2020
Our plan is to wait until this pandemic is over, hopefully in early 2021, because how can you possibly have a celebration of Danny’s life without hugs? We will plan a big celebration of Danny’s life down at the American Legion hall, like we did for Sheila.
Danny loved a good party and loved Sheila’s celebration there. He requested we do the same for him. So, all friends of Danny will be welcomed at the celebration in 2021, more details to come once we can secure a date.
Until then, please celebrate his life in your own special way and offer up a prayer or a toast to The Chief. (Editor’s note: When toasting to the Chief, if drinking a beer, you must say… “Ahhhh… sweet kiss of the hops” after your first sip, as Danny did EVERY time he had a beer. Or, if you prefer wine, you must say “it’s a naive young wine, I’m amused by it’s presumptuousness” after your first sip. Again, as he said EVERY time he had his first sip of wine!).
Dan Swen Rogers Obituary
The Life of Danny Rogers Early years:
Dan Swen Rogers (aka The Chief) was born in Long Beach, CA on July 24, 1934 to Swen Brockman and Edith Banta. When he was only a few years old, Swen and Edith divorced and Edith remarried Floyd Rogers. Floyd adopted Dan and he changed his name to Dan Swen Rogers. Floyd and Edith were wonderful parents, principled, prudent, and steadfast. They taught him so many great life lessons that he would embody the rest of his life. He eventually also became close to Swen in his later years, and they had a beautiful relationship. He grew up in San Gabriel, CA and attended Mark Keppel High School. He still remained very close to his best friend and several other close friends from this time in his life. He was an only child, so he spent most of his free time playing sports. A natural athlete, he loved and played every sport he could. In high school, he played tennis, baseball, golf, and track and field, but his true passion was basketball.
The Basketball Years:
After high school, he went on to play basketball at Fullerton Junior College. He led the team to the State Championship game his first year and then won it their second year. Danny was captain and leading scorer and was named Most Outstanding Player in the tournament. He was inducted to the FJC Hall of Fame a few years ago. After a great career at FJC, he and a couple of his teammates (and best friends) were recruited by USC.
He shortly became a super-star guard at USC and began setting records. His forte was driving to the basket and often getting fouled. He set many records at USC: most points in a season, most free throws made in a season and in a game, most attempted in a season and game, and several others. He still currently holds the oldest record in USC basketball history: most free throws attempted in a game (26). Most of his records stood for decades until Harold Minor came along and broke all of them but one. He was named to the first team All-Conference team and Methodists All American first team. His favorite memory was beating John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins 84-80 his senior year and scoring the last 6 points of the game. He led his team in scoring and assists both years he was at USC. He was a member of the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, along with some of his very best friends from Fullerton JC, and remained close to those guys his entire life.
After USC, he was in the U.S. Army Reserves for 6 months at Fort Ord, then returned to USC for his teaching credential. He moved to Newport Beach and was an English teacher and Bee Basketball coach at Newport Harbor High School. After a short stint there, he was hired as full-time assistant coach at USC. He spent a couple of years coaching and recruiting for USC, and during that time developed some life-long friendships with his players. Dan was at his happiest getting together with his old basketball buddies from USC and reminiscing and “enhancing” some of their old stories.
After a couple of years at USC, he was hired as the first basketball coach for the new program at University of California, Irvine in 1964. After his second year there, he was lured into the business world. He loved coaching and often regretted this decision, but somehow it all worked out. He would also continue to coach every one of his kids’ teams in every sport, often with great success.
After leaving UCI, he went to work for one of his good friends at Nutrilite, a health supplement company, for 5 years. It was very successful, but was sold to Amway, and he had to choose to move to Michigan or leave the company. He chose to stay in Newport Beach and was recruited to join some friends in a sports promotion company. They managed the World Hockey Association, World Team Tennis and other alternative league sports. He loved being involved in sports again and was later named General Manager of The Hawaiians, a franchise in the new World Football League (the first alternative league to the NFL). He moved the family to Hawaii in 1974 and built the franchise in Honolulu along with the ownership group there. It was a fun and exciting time. The WFL then asked him to come back to the home office in Newport Beach to become Vice President of the league. Unfortunately, the league folded after a couple of years.
After the WFL, he became the Executive Director of the Newport Harbor Area Chamber of Commerce. This job suited him well with his outgoing personality, and he loved getting involved in the local community. He ran the Chamber for several years but was lured away to join some friends in Commercial Real Estate.
He loved Commercial Real Estate and worked for several different firms including Lee & Associates and the Ford Motor Land Company. He had many successful years in real estate from around 1985 to 2000. However, in 2000 he was offered what would become his dream job - President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Orange County.
Non Profit work:
Dan was always involved in non-profit work. He was on the board at the Boys and Girls Club, President of the Food Bank (now Second Harvest), and helped out with so many other local charities. He tirelessly raised funds and ran events for many different organizations including Orange County Youth Sports Foundation and Irrelevant Week. Due to his great local charity work and his deep-rooted community connections, he was selected to run the Goodwill of Orange County. He loved this job and cherished the clients there, and the Goodwill thrived under his leadership. He was in his element, helping the less fortunate and spreading love throughout the community. This would be his most fulfilling work, and he never stopped promoting and preaching the good work of Goodwill Industries.
Dan met Sheila Murphy when he was a graduate student at USC at a Phi Psi/Tri-Delt party. Sheila was already smitten with him and followed his basketball career, and wisely, Dan saw how amazing Sheila was too. They dated while Sheila was still a student at USC, and he proposed to her at Sheila’s 21st birthday party at the Jonathan Club. They were married on August 20th, 1960 and moved to Newport Beach that same year. Both teachers at the time, they didn’t waste too much time, having 3 boys within 26 months: John, Joe and Pete. Thankfully, and fulfilling Danny’s wishes, they had a beautiful baby girl, Tracy, a few years later, who was the apple of his eye.
Early family life involved many great camping trips to Yosemite with close family friends. Those memories of camping in Yosemite remain a very special place to the Rogers family. It was Danny and Sheila’s favorite place, and both Tracy and Joe had their weddings in Yosemite. The family also camped at Big Sur and for many years enjoyed beach camping at San Elijo State Park. Danny always led the campfire sing-a-longs with his guitar and ukulele with some classic campfire songs. He loved music and was always singing or whistling a tune no matter where he was.
Danny was also “Coach” to all his kids’ teams. He was a great coach, and the boys all succeeded in basketball due to his great teaching. He even coached Tracy in soccer, which he knew nothing about, and they won the state championship. He was a great, involved, loving father and loved his children more than anything.
All of his children stayed very close by and still live in the area. The Rogers remained a very close and loving family throughout all the years, gathering together at every chance. Danny, aka “The Chief” to all his family and grandkids, loved any chance to be with his kids and grandkids. Luckily, he had 7 grandkids: Chloe and Danny (John’s), Murphy and Max (Joe’s), Raife (Pete’s) and Josie and Ruby (Tracy’s). He LOVED these kids and attended every sporting event, school event, and birthday party, and showered them with love at any opportunity. It’s really wonderful to see how much he’s influenced their lives, along with their amazing Nana. The Chief and Nana proudly proclaimed they were “stay at home Grandparents” and the love they shared with their grandchildren was truly amazing.
One of his great fears after meeting and falling in love with Sheila was that she was a devout Catholic, and he was non-religious. He feared she wouldn’t marry him. But that was not to be. Luckily, Sheila agreed, and soon introduced him to Catholicism, and he dove right in. He was initiated into the Catholic church and he and Sheila often attended daily mass. There is an old song that embodies their faith, “They will know we are Christians by our love.” Amen!
Danny often said that his life’s mantra was, “Everyone needs four things in life. Something to DO. Someone to LOVE. Something to BELIEVE in. Something to HOPE for.” As his story unfolds, it is clear that he lived out this belief in all facets of his life encompassing his family, friends and his God. His faith was the foundation of his life, and up until his last day, he continued to work with the church, have weekly meetings with his “Cursillo Brothers” to discuss the Gospel, and help many charities in any way he could.
Danny loved all sports. He was a great competitor and played city league basketball well into his 50’s with some old pals and also his sons. The “Old but Slo” team was well known on the court and even better known for “house pours” at Me n’ Eds pizza after the games. He was a competitive tennis player and was nationally ranked on the senior circuit but gave up tennis one day and focused on golf. He loved golf and was a member at Santa Ana Country Club, where he had so many great times. He and his son Joe played in many tournaments together over the years. He also travelled throughout the US and the UK, playing some of the best courses in the world with great friends. You could always find him running many charity golf tournaments over the years, as well as his friendly “Pre-Major” tourneys at SACC.
Danny was a promoter of events, creating a world of fun for his many friends. He often formed a “committee” to assist him with the details. Being on the committee was a party all on its own. He formed the Mullet Ski Trip. Mullet really has nothing to do with skiing, but the fish enjoy warm coastal waters, so skiing in the sun was a given. The ski party started as soon as the bus departed for Mammoth. More of his lively adventures were the Fabulous Fifties Parties held at the American Legion dance hall. Of course Danny knew all the words to every song and savored every dance - not missing a beat. Friends were Danny’s heartbeat, and he nurtured them, encouraged them, teased them, but most of all, loved them. His numerous friends will attest to that. Danny made a difference in the world.
In summing up Danny’s incredible life, he was a beautiful example of a complete and faithful man. He was ethical and moral in every aspect of his life, and he certainly knew how to have fun, enjoy life, and spread his infectious love to everyone he met. He set an incredible example for the rest of us and gave us so many great memories. His stamp is indelible on his family and friends and we can all learn from his spirit. If we all try to be more like Danny every day, the world will be a better place. If you measure a man’s worth by the number of friends he has or the number of lives he touched in a positive way, then he’s the wealthiest man we know. God Bless Danny and we’re so happy he’s with the love of his life, Sheila, in heaven, just where they’re supposed to be.
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