DOUGLAS – Eleanor Dee (Whitaker) Rodgers, age 85, passed away peacefully in the loving company of her granddaughter, Hailey Bloom, at 4:58 p.m., on Thursday, June 4, 2020, due to complications of numerous health issues.
She was born Friday, July 6, 1934, at Rose Hillman’s Maternity Home in Douglas, the daughter of Ruth (Furman) and Walter Winton Whitaker Sr.. She was welcomed home to the family ranch, the Wagonhound homestead on King Creek, by an older brother Walter Jr. and two sisters, Janice “Jan” and Joan.
In May 1940, the family sold their homestead and moved into their newly purchased ranch, formerly belonging to Brigadier General Henry Blanchard Freeman. Freeman fought on behalf of the United States Army in the Civil War and later served in battles against the Cheyenne, Ute and Sioux, in Cuba, and later in the Philippines. He died in Douglas in 1915, both he and his wife are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Eleanor attended school by horseback at the local one-room schoolhouse which had been built on land donated by her father. At age 5, Eleanor witnessed the death due to pneumonia of her sister, Joan.
It is a grief she carried all her life. While she enjoyed playing the piano, her love of ranching and horse husbandry continued through her life – she shared her father’s gift and understanding of raising, breaking and caring for the horses on the ranch.
Eleanor graduated from Douglas High School in 1952, having enjoyed activities including 4-H, playing drums in the band, and Jobs Daughters Bethel No. 1. While in high school, Eleanor met and fell in life-long love with Jess Louis Rodgers, formerly of Lance Creek, Lusk. They eloped and were married in December 1951.
Eleanor and Jess welcomed five children into their lives; David “Dave”, Richard “Dick”, Cheri, Walter Wayne “Skip”, and Darin. After living in Douglas and Sterling, Colo., Jess and Eleanor moved to Casper in 1957. While raising her five children, Eleanor volunteered as an election judge for most elections and worked at the Casper Memorial Hospital, Deines Architect, and Control Data.
Over the course of her life, she enjoyed memberships in the Wyoming Republican Party, Converse County Cow-Belles, the Converse County American Legion, Women of the Moose, The Wyoming Pioneer Museum Association, and the Episcopal Church. Her hobbies included playing bridge, horseback riding, cooking, sewing, and volunteering for the Wyoming Hospice Association.
Above all, her greatest passion was for her family. She was fierce in her protections of those whom she loved and passionate in her love of Wyoming. She was welcoming, forgiving and always engaged in a zest for life. Eleanor was a favorite of all who knew her... she will be carried forever in the hearts of her family and friends.
Eleanor was preceded in death by her parents, Ruth and Walter Whitaker; her older sister Joan; her older brother, Walter Jr.; her younger brother, Gerald; her son, Walter Wayne “Skip”; and her son, Richard “Dick”.
She is survived by her sister, Janice “Jan” Hudson and her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren; husband of 68 years, Jess Rodgers; children, David “Dave” and wife, Debb, their children, Bryan Rodgers (Jessica), children, Jordan, Penelope, Griffin and Isadora; Steve Rodgers (Denise), children, Gadge, Jesse, and Arianna Rodgers; step-grandchildren, Ben (Libby) Lamp, children, Kayla, Drake, Dayne, Lonnie and Cactus Jack; Brock (Stephanie) Crossley, children, Carmine, Calyn Camille, Killian and Jill Crossley. Eleanor and Jess’ son Dick’s widow, Janet, children, Chris (Anita) Rodgers and Peter Rodgers. Eleanor and Jess’s daughter, Cheri (Phil), children, Greg (Briana) Gerou, their child, Caroline Gerou, and Sara/Jerry Gerou. Eleanor and Jess’ son, Darin (Crystal), children, Hailey (Jesse) Bloom, step-grandsons Jake (Kaitlyn) Mongan their child, Peyton Mongan, and Dylan Mongan.
A celebration of Eleanor’s life will be held at the site of many annual June picnics – Oleo Acres 286 Braae Road in Douglas, at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 27, 2020, with the Rev. Bobbe Fitzhugh of Christ Episcopal Church officiating. We will be following recommended guidelines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interment will be at Douglas Park Cemetery at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Eleanor’s name to Central Wyoming Hospice Association, 319 South Wilson Street, Casper, WY 82601; Wyoming Pioneer Association, P.O. Box 1545, Douglas, WY 82633; or an organization of your choice.
The Gorman Funeral Homes – Converse Chapel of Douglas is in charge of the arrangements.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.gormanfh.com