Roger was born & raised in St. Louis till 1968, then moved to the county. Graduated from Fox High 1969. Worked for Sealtest (12), Schnucks (26) and Prairie Farms Dairy (7 years). Met Debbie in 1971 and were married in 1974. God blessed them with 2–children, Tammy and Jason. Which was absolutely a gift from God, which is another story.
Roger got his love for fishing when he was about 3 years old, when he would spend his summers at Grandparents home in Perryville, till he was 9 years old and learned to help on their farm. Planting, harvesting fields and his favorite relaxing times was when they would go fishing. Such good memories during his childhood days.
Roger accepted Jesus Christ as His Personal Savior at Bible FWB Church in Fall of 1974, baptized in 1978 at Calvary Fellowship FWB Church. Roger began serving as usher with Leon Reese who was the Head Usher. Door Greeter 1978–Present. In 1980—Present, Roger served as Head Usher. Roger was Boy Scout Assistant 1986-1988, served on the Church Accounting Committee for 4 years, Shepherding Program 1996–2009, Young at Heart Group 2000–Present, Deacon 1998—Present and Baptism Greeters 2014-Present.
During Roger and Debbie’s lives, God gave them opportunities to travel to many destinations for vacations. They have flown high above the clouds, been on top of Yosemite mountain and on Roger and Debbie’s 30th wedding anniversary in Oahu, Hawaii they took an electric Atlantis Submarine and at 116 feet below the ocean they kissed. Submarine guide said, “Not many people can say they have kissed their spouse under the ocean”. Throughout the years and travels, they have seen some of God’s majestic landmarks and the clear blue bottom of the ocean that He has created. So many places, sights and beauty, but, we know that God is only giving us a glimpse of what we shall see in our eternal home. Debbie worked in Walmart Jewelry Dept. and got to travel to home office in 1996, where she had the opportunity of seeing many jewels all in one place–jade, jasper, amethyst, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, opals, pearls, etc. they were magnificent. In Revelation 21:9-27–the angels showing John what God has created for us, nothing here is going to compare to the beauty and majesty that we shall see in our Heavenly Home and what a reward for those of us who know and have Jesus as our Personal Savior.
Around 1993 Bro. Jerry started a Shepherding Program. Gurvis and Doris Hinsen became “Our Shepherds”. During this time, our relationship changed from Shepherd/Friends to becoming Family. They became Dad and Mom and we added Brothers/Sisters/Nieces and Nephews. Mom and Dad and the Volleingers invited us in June 1997 to Lilleys Landing in Branson, MO. Our love for Branson began that year, then several years later Mom and Dad invited us to Christmas in Branson and this became our yearly vacation spots. Several of you here today have been with us on our vacations and what wonderful times we had. Roger loved getting up at 4–4:30 a.m. and be on the dock fishing and having fishing buddies to be up early fishing with him. We are born in our families, but, every once in a while God gives a gift of an additional family. God’s gifts are treasures that are for a lifetime, and He has given us such cherished family, friends and memories.
Roger’s cancer journey began during vacation at Lilleys Landing on Wednesday, July 1st, 2015. Chicken had got stuck in throat. Chicken was the only indicator that something was wrong. Seen Family Doctor Tuesday, Aug. 6 and she said it can be one of two things—Esophagus cancer or Esophagus needs to be stretched. On Monday, August 24, 2015, Endoscopy/Colonoscopy showed Stage 4–Esophageal & Left Adrenal Gland Cancer. Doctor told us you have 12–18 months. We arrived home that afternoon and before opening our door, quite a few butterflies flew in front of us. For us it was a sign that God was letting us know that He was going to be with us during this journey. With many tests confirming cancer, others tests, PTL! found Roger’s heart and lungs were very strong and MRI showed no cancer on his brain. We began 1st chemo series on Wed. Sept. 16, 2015 thru Jan. 4, 2016. Doctor told about side effects, going bald and not feeling up to do anything. Roger told Doctor that God was in control of this situation and no matter what happens “I win”! PTL! God was just amazing, Roger didn’t lose his hair, he did lose taste buds, tips fingers/toes were numb, but, through God’s grace, Roger was still feeling pretty good and we ran around each day. With each Doctor visit we’d tell them God is in total control and He is carrying us through.
On Mon, January 18, 2016 to Mon. Aug. 22, 2016, 2nd chemo, the Doctor told us this new chemo would put Roger in a wheelchair in 3 weeks, because, side effect is numbness through your body. We told the doctor that we were heading to Disneyland, Wed., Feb. 10-Sunday, Feb. 14th, 2016 and he said, you will have to be using a wheelchair by this time. PTL! Roger’s hands/feet and up to his knees went numb, but, again God’s marvelous grace allowed Roger to walk. We had asked for prayer for Roger to have energy, strength and endurance during this trip. By Friday evening, Tammy asked me, “Mom, what did you ask prayer for? I told her that I’d only asked prayer for Dad. We were absolutely exhausted and Roger was out walking us and had so much energy.” God had listened to our prayer request for Dad, we so forgot to ask prayer for us! Tammy said, “Mom, when we head to Silver Dollar City please make sure you ask prayers for all 4 of us!” Believe me, I did and God was just so gracious to sustain us through each day. In fact, at Disneyland, with fitbits, we walked about 22,000–24,000 steps a day. God’s grace so amazing.
Roger lost his wedding band on Sunday, January 10, 2016 and we thought it was gone, but, one of our teen boys found and turned it in. On Sunday, January 17th, Roger came down to the Resource Room and said, “My ring has been found, would you wear it for me till I gain my weight back”. Absolutely, I will. PTL! Roger gained his weight back in May 2016 and I was able to return his band to him. When cancer came back in Sept. 2016, Roger was losing weight and asked if I would wear his band again. I’ve been wearing his wedding band since that day in Sept. 2016.
Roger’s hair has gone through a variety of colors/textures throughout this journey. He went a dark grey, a hard to control wavy tawny brown, with highlights of red when in sunlight, then it went white and you could see his scalp (reminded us of Linus on Charlie Brown) figured he would finally lose it, but, God changed it to very thick light brown hair in Jan. 2017, by May 2017 started turning grey again and then in Sept. 2017 it started turning dark, dark brown. What a variety of surprises we’ve had during this cancer journey, but, God in His faithfulness, Roger never went bald. On Tuesday, Sept. 13th–3rd Chemo Roger allergic, had to stop. 4th Chemo Mon. Sept. 19-Wed. Dec. 28, 2016–we were told all the side effects and yet, God prevails through it all. Roger did get tired, but, his appetite returned, no longer ill and still able to run everywhere.
On Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016–May 8, 2017—NO MORE CHEMO. Roger seems to be doing fine and there isn’t any type of chemo to start him on for now. PTL! Tumors have shrunk and Roger is still able to eat. Thanking God for this blessing. By February 1st–Roger’s hair is extremely long & thick, so headed to barber who is so shocked to see Roger, because in December he was white headed and could see scalp.
On February 24th, 2017 weather was beautiful and we decided to go to Suson County Park. Didn’t catch anything that day, but, we asked for prayer and when we returned in March till Wednesday, Sept. 6th, 2017–each time we went God blessed us with the most spectacular days. Debbie, might be the first to bring her pole in, but, she always caught a leaf. Yes, a leaf and she would have Roger take her picture with it. Roger has been fishing at Suson since 1972 and only caught tiny perch. But, from this spring to this summer, God’s grace, compassion and love made this the best year Roger has ever had with fishing at Suson. On Wednesday, Sept. 6th, after spending 2 ½ hours, catching nothing, we moved to our 4th spot, Roger said we’d leave in 15 minutes. He cast his 1st, 2nd, 3rd poles in and then on the 4th pole, said, “Lord, it would be so great to catch a nice fish?” Roger cast, turned to come to the bench and this fishing pole was jumping. Roger pulled in a 15” bass. God listening to the hearts and desires of Roger’s heart was just so amazing! To witnessing how quickly He answered was incredible and hard to comprehend, but, His love has shown through so many events throughout this journey and we know that only God can do the things that we have seen and been able to do. We stayed for an additional 2 hours and didn’t catch anything. This was the last day Roger fished. On Thursday, Sept. 7th, Roger got up and said, “Debbie, I’m just not feeling good!” Where once, Roger, Tammy and I would get up on Saturdays and run all day long, he didn’t feel up to going anymore. His last Saturday running with us was Sept. 2nd, 2017.
Around March 5th, 2017—Roger started having trouble with food and water. Called oncologist, ran CT Scan to discover that the cancer was closing off the esophagus. Attempted to place a stent into esophagus on April 24th, but, gastrologist said, “Can’t have done, because it will perforate the esophagus.” Seen oncologist and he recommended radiation. In the beginning of this journey, he said, Roger would never be able to have radiation, but, God is just so amazing and opened a door that we once thought was closed.
On May 8—Jun3 12, 2017–Roger took 25 radiation treatments. Each week radiation doctor asked about pain. We’d tell her when we’d leave here we’re heading to Suson to fish. The other patients that we met, were surprised and we told them how God has been in total control of this journey and giving us these wonderful memories. PTL! God allowed pain to stay away, till Tuesday, June 13th. That day was a rough day, but, through the next couple days pain subsided and PTL! Roger was feeling good and able to eat again.
Vacation June 24-July 1, 2017–at Lilleys Landing, fishing wasn’t too great, we did catch 19 this week. But, on Friday, June 30th, Roger and I are sitting on the dock, beautiful sunshiny day, then at about 7:00 a.m. we saw this black funnel
coming towards us up the valley of the lake. I told Roger, “we need to get back to our cabin”. Roger said, “Debbie, it going to be okay, God will protect us”. We were in the eye of the storm and it was eerie, scary and yet beautiful all at the same time. The rain was pelting in on all sides of the dock and yet, there were 2 spots that were dry. So amazing. Roger went and got the 2 lawn chairs and we watched this storm as is passed through. I’ve never experienced this before, but, God did protect us and we were dry. As I looked around at the dock and how wet everything was, we knew that God is, has and will be protecting us throughout whatever trials, struggles and joys this journey provides. Roger’s peace at this time and throughout this journey has been God’s gift to us. His grace is so sufficient and He so loves His children. When we left cabin to go to SDC–playing on the radio “In the Eye of the Storm”. God continuing to let us know that He is walking this path with us. What assurance of His love!
On August 1st–Sept. 13th–Roger is struggling with eating again. Contacted doctor, CT scan ran Monday, Sept. 11th–tumor is closing off esophagus again. PTL! On Wednesday, Sept. 13th–Gastrologist was able to insert the esophageal stent. On Thursday Roger was in extreme pain and quit eating. Roger’s losing weight, not doing well. Family doctor recommended Hospice on Wednesday, Sept. 20th. But, again, God is in total control.
On Saturday, Sept. 23–Debbie went to BSF Leader’s Group and the Ladies prayed, then went to church, talked to Pastor and several of the guys, told them about hospice. When I get home, Tammy and Jason said, “Mom, “Dad has ate all these things and asking for Chinese”. Plus, drinking 2-3 glasses of milk a day. God is just so amazing. Then after oncologist appointment on Monday, Sept. 25th, Dr. said, “Roger’s not ready for Hospice, he started “Keytruda” on Wednesday, Sept. 29th to Wednesday, December 6th, 2017.
Weekend of Nov. 3rd-5th–went to Branson for Christmas at Silver Dollar City. Roger is just exhausted from Keytruda and on Wednesday, Nov. 1st, Roger said, “Debbie, I don’t think I can walk far, so, we’ll stay at top of hills. I told him that was fine. On Friday night Roger held my hand before falling asleep. On Saturday at SDC through God’s amazing grace, Roger had energy and we were able to walk down the hills to the restaurants we like to eat at and see the sights. Saturday night, Roger reached again for my hand. Me the worrier asked, “Roger, is something wrong?” He said, “No, I just want you to know “I Love You’! We have fallen asleep many nights holding hands since that weekend.
Friday, Nov. 24th—Tammy and I were in line shopping. Jason texted us that the car and Dad were gone. When we got back to the house later, Roger laughing said, “I like Warden Jason, better than Warden Tammy and Debbie.” See Debbie, I told you I could drive. He was laughing and God was just so good to have given him the desire of his heart to drive. On Saturday, November 25th, Roger awoke to major pain in left ankle. On Friday, December 1, 2017— Discovered cancer in left ankle. Roger began radiation, Monday, Dec. 4–Friday, Dec. 15th, to help shrink tumor and get rid of the pain. Radiation doctor told us that the cancer has “Jumped Out” away from the “Keytruda” letting us know that the cancer is here and aggressive. PTL! Pain went away and Roger was able to walk normal again. On Friday, Dec. 15th–last radiation day, I’m driving home and Roger asks, “Honey, what would you like for Christmas?” Listening to the radio and this song came on, “All I Want for Christmas is You?” Had to pull over because we both were crying. I told him that “I’d love for you to be healed”, Roger said, “Debbie, the healing could be that God calls me home!” We know that God is ever present and He is in total control of everything, even when there are trials, struggles and joys. But, what a promise to have, as Children of God and those who have accepted Jesus as your personal Savior, our home isn’t here, but, in Heaven and we know that we shall see each other again. Across the top of our headstone, we have the phrase, “PTL! Meet you at the Tree of Life” and underneath John 3:16. What a blessed assurance of heaven!
On Thursday, December 21, 2017–CT and Bone Scans ran. On Wednesday, December 27th seen oncologist and he asked, “Roger are you having pain anywhere?” Roger said, “just in my chest where the stent is”. Doctor is amazed, because of the size of the hip tumor and the tumor on his spine, Roger should be in pain. But, God is just so good and we know that only He can shield this pain from Roger. PTL! For God’s presence, faithfulness and compassion that He is showing to our family. Roger continues to not have pain and we know that God is our solid rock, foundation and He’s shielding Roger at this time.
On Wednesday, January 17, 2018–Signed up for Hospice. The Hospice Lady said to visualize, “Long hall with light switches”. During the patients declining, a transition begins. The light switches begin to switch off. As Roger and I talked, we realize that as the light switches are fading here, God is beginning the process of turning on the light switches for heaven. When the final light switch is turned off here, Roger’s soul will be transformed and he shall be with Jesus in our eternal home. (This came from Janie on my FB page–Your light switch story, I look at it as, new lights are turned on, one by one as we approach Jesus’ loving arms. Or to have God envelope you with wonderful beautiful wings, so soft and warm to then be released in Heaven!) What a beautiful picture to behold?
Hospice nurses came 2 times a week and with each visit they are amazed at how Roger is doing. Vitals good and he’s still able to get around. He does have pain where chest stent located and adrenal gland. Nurse asked, “Are you sure they have the right diagnosis for you?” Roger and I laugh and say, “Yes, we’ve seen the pictures”! God is totally in control of this journey and we continually seek His guidance through each day.
On Wednesday, April 4th, Roger experiencing hip pain from the tumor. It has been growing these last 4 weeks and is big. Thursday, pain still here, but, not as bad and then amazingly enough the pain is gone by Friday, April 6th. God totally taking this pain away. I would bring Roger a pain pill and he told me, “I don’t have pain”, but, Roger’s heart was beginning to beat very fast Nurses said pain pill would help to calm heart.
Thursday, April 12th—about 2:45 p.m. Roger started raising his arms and looking at the ceiling and then folding his hands when he brought his arms down. Our daughter, Tammy and my cousin, Pam (whose a nurse) were here. They would jump up each time he raised his arms and ask if he needed anything or in pain. Roger couldn’t speak any longer and would shake his head, “No!: When my cousin, Pam left at 8:00 p.m. we held hands and prayed, telling Roger, that it was okay for him to go home. Roger continued this all afternoon, evening and into Friday morning, April 13th. I had fallen asleep at 2:45 and something jolted me up at 3:30 a.m. I saw Roger’s arms up and he was looking at the ceiling. Went to him and asked if in pain, shook his head. Then he took his hand and placed on my stomach, I placed my hand over his and then he tried to raise my hand. He raised his hand looked at the ceiling and looked at me and back to the ceiling, so, I raised my arms, looked at the ceiling and said, “Dad, it’s okay to go on home. Jesus is softly and tenderly calling you home, we love you and will miss you, but, we shall see you again. I fell asleep at 3:45—6:20 a.m. I woke up and Roger was still here.
At 8:51 a.m. Friday, April 13th,Roger took his last breath and was home with Jesus. What a celebration going on today! For us we shall miss him, but, the assurance of knowing he’s whole again and with Jesus and many loved ones who have gone before. What joy there is in knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Then when we depart from this world, we shall meet again.
We are ever so thankful for all your love and prayers for our family during this journey. God has shown us over and over again, that, no matter the situation, He is here through each moment of everyday, He’s in total control and He has given us the most fantastic memories and miracles throughout. From seeing deer, turkeys, even a pig in our yard (funny story here and God’s sense of humor for us), hummingbirds and varieties of birds knocking on front window or singing so that we fill the feeders. So many delightful things to cherish and the many gifts from God leaves us humbled by His love, compassion and peace He has provided during this journey. Only God knows what is going to happen to a person, for He has created us before we were born and to our last breath here on earth, He shows us that we are important to Him as His children. God shines His light for all who seek Him. May you seek Him and learn about the peace He can provide in your life. God is just a whisper away and all you have to do is accept, believe, confess Jesus Christ as your Personal Savior. He knows your heart and loves us beyond comprehension. If you don’t know Him today, will you accept Him as your Personal Savior.
The 12-18 months that we were first given for Roger, God blessed us with 33 months and 13 days and through it all God has walked, carried and shown His mercy and grace each day. God is our peace, solid rock, foundation, strength and our lighthouse through all the Storms of Life. May you seek Jesus as your Savior. John 3:16.
God Bless and Love,
Debbie, Tammy and Jason